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Custody, Residency & Access
Custody refers to the power to make major decisions regarding the upbringing of a child. These decisions include matters relating to the religion of the child as well as his or her education and medical treatment.
When a parent is granted sole custody, that parent has the exclusive right to make all major decisions on behalf of his or her minor child. Where the parents agree on joint custody, both parents must jointly agree on all major decisions relating to their child.
Residency, on the other hand, refers to where the child will live. Day-to-day decisions are made by the parent in whose care the child is, according to the residential schedule.
When the child has primary residency with one parent, the other (non-custodial) parent usually has rights of contact or access. Access includes the right to be given information about a child’s health, education and welfare. The access parent is entitled to inquire about and to be given information from sources like the child’s school, doctor and daycare providers.
In an intact relationship, both parents have custodial decision-making authority. After the parties’ separation, if one parent moves out of the house with or without the child or if one parent allows the other parent to relocate with the child, the parent who remains with the child and who cares for the child daily has de facto custody. The other parent is entitled to access.