Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Child Custody Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Child Custody Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Child Custody Lawyer Featured Image

One of the most frightening aspects of seeking a divorce is the question of child custody.

Get help with your custody case in the language you’re most comfortable in. Our team serves Chinese-speaking clients in Mandarin or English as they prefer. This ensures that you understand all your options, the stakes, and how you can best make your case to a Vancouver judge.

Here’s what you need to know about child custody arrangements in British Columbia. 

How Child Custody is Determined in British Columbia

British Columbia judges assign child custody based on their determination of the best interests of the child. There are a number of factors they consider, including:

  • The child’s closeness with each parent.
  • The parent who is handling the bulk of the child rearing duties.
  • The home environment of each parent.
  • The willingness of either parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent. 
  • The child’s special needs and medical requirements.
  • The opinion of the child.
  • The child’s educational and training needs.
  • The financial situation of each parent.
  • The parent’s physical and mental fitness to care for the child.
  • Any applicable history of family violence. 

Most judges find it is in the best interests of the child to maintain a relationship with both parents. In addition, British Columbia law states that both parents are guardians of their child by default, unless that parent has never lived with the child and does not have regular contact with the child.

Guardianship comes both with rights and responsibilities. 

Types of Custody

Legal custody refers to the power to make decisions for the child, including educational, medical, and religious decisions. 

Physical custody refers to the right to have a child live with their parent.

Joint physical and legal custody means the child will live with each parent close to 50% of the time, and both will retain decision making power. This is the most common custody arrangement, and the one favored by British Columbia courts unless there are good, pressing reasons for any other arrangement. 

Joint legal custody with sole physical custody means the child will live with one parent most of the time, but that both parents will retain decision making power over the child’s life.

Sole physical and legal custody means that one parent loses decision making power and the child will live with one parent most of the time. This is the rarest custody arrangement. 

Split custody refers to an arrangement where one parent has sole physical custody of some of the children, and some have sole physical custody of other children. This can happen when children have a strong preference for one parent over the other to a degree that is convincing to the court, or when other circumstances exist that make this arrangement sensible. 


Even parents who do not have custody of their children are usually awarded access. Access refers to time with the child. It’s also known as “visitation” or “parenting time.”

Unless significant issues exist, most judges award “reasonable and liberal” parenting time when joint custody is not possible. If significant issues do exist, judges usually order supervised parenting time.

It is very rare for a parent to be denied any access to a child at all, and would only be possible in instances of severe abuse, neglect, or danger posed to the child. 

See also: Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Access and Visitation Lawyer


Can a non-custodial parent fight for custody?

In theory you can continue suing for custody at any time. 

In practice, one the divorce decree or settlement is set you would only be successful in changing custody arrangements if circumstances change or if new evidence comes to light. 

How do I get full custody in Vancouver?

Sole joint and physical custody is awarded only in extraordinary circumstances. You would have to prove that the other parent or the people the other parent is living with are a true danger to the child.

That means proving physical assault, sexual abuse, extreme emotional abuse, extreme mental health problems, or a drug addiction.

Even if you are awarded full custody there is a good chance that the judge will allow the other parent supervised visitation. It is extremely difficult to get a judge to terminate all parental rights completely. 

At what age can a child choose which parent to live with in British Columbia?

There is no specific age defined by law. Judges always use the child’s wishes as one of a number of factors to consider when determine where the child will live. There is no age at which the child’s decision will be the only factor under consideration. 

Judges are well aware that some teenagers, for example, might choose to live with a parent who lets them stay up all night or who fails to set appropriate rules and boundaries. 

A Voice of the Child Report must be generated for the judge to take the child’s views into account. This will require your child to meet with a psychologist or counselor. Children will not be put on the stand or asked to share their views with a judge directly. 

At what age can a child refuse to see a parent in British Columbia?

A child whose parent has access rights or joint physical custody may not refuse to see the other parent until they tur 18 years of age. A child’s refusal to go see the other parent is not a adequate reason to fail to comply with a court order, and the parent may be held in contempt of court if they allow it.

As the child ages, of course, courts do recognize that a parent’s ability to force the child to see a parent diminishes. Nevertheless, the legal right does not exist at any age.

How does moving out of British Columbia impact child custody? 

Once you are involved in a co-parenting arrangement with your ex, you may not simply move away from British Columbia without the court’s permission. 

The court will allow it for good reasons, such as pursuing a better job or a marriage, but it will not allow arbitrary moves, or moves which seem calculated to frustrate the other parent’s ability to spend time with their child. The court is primarily concerned with whether the move will make the child’s life better. 

The other parent always has the right to object to a relocation. After a relocation, co-parenting agreements must often be revised. You are more likely to get permission to move if you come to the court or your ex with a reasonable parenting time or access modification in hand. 

It is usually wise to discuss the proposed relocation with your ex before the matter gets brought before the courts. You are required to give 60 days written notice of your intent to relocate in any case. You may only ask the court to excuse you from this notice if providing it puts you or your child at risk for violence. You may also ask for an exception if the other guardian does not have a ongoing relationship with the child. 

If you do not involve the courts the other guardian can accuse you of violating court orders and wrongfully denying them time with their children. This can even launch a new custody case. 

Will China enforce my custody agreement?

Child custody issues are quite frightening to many of our Chinese clients simply because they fear the other parent will take a child back to China. China has not signed the Hague Convention that would require the return of said children.

Still, there is some hope. China did pass its Law on the Protection of Minors in 2020. This law forbids parents from “competing for custody rights by snatching or hiding underaged children.” This may mean that parents could press their case in Chinese courts.

The ideal solution is to prevent these issues by creating custody arrangements both you and your ex can live with so they are less tempted to take such a drastic step. This is one reason why we tend to encourage many of our Chinese clients to engage in a collaborative divorce, or in divorce mediations. If relations can be kept amicable and businesslike the chances of parental kidnapping are reduced.

If your ex is abusive and an amicable parting is not possible then be sure to let us know. There are special steps and provisions we may need to take in order to protect you and your children in the future. 

Get Help Today

Our team has handled hundreds of complex child custody cases here in the Vancouver area. We have the skills and know-how to help you protect your relationship with your children. 

We are responsive, kind, and dedicated to helping you in the language of your choice. 

Chinese Lawyer Vancouver serves clients in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, and White Rock. Call to set up an appointment today.

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Please note: The information provided on this website is Not Legal Advice. The information may or may not be accurate. The information is for discussion purposes only. Reliance upon any information provided would not be grounds to advance a claim against Chinese Lawyer Vancouver for providing any advice. In order to get a formal legal opinion upon which you may rely about any specific fact scenario, you would have to first retain the services of a lawyer and request a formal legal opinion.