Decision Making & Parenting Time (formerly Custody & Access)

Stouffville Decision-Making & Parenting Time Divorce Lawyers

Parenting time, formerly called “access”, refers to the time when the child is in the physical care of each parent. Parenting time is often shared, however in many cases, children will spend more time with one parent than the other, for the sake of consistency and practicality. The amount of parenting time allotted to each parent can impact the amount of child support and spousal support. Parents who share time with their children will also need to create a parenting plan or schedule, to clearly define the terms of their arrangement. This ensures there is no room for misunderstanding, reducing the chances of a dispute.

Decision-making ability, formerly referred to as “custody”, refers to the rights of each parent to make decisions on behalf of their child. Courts in Ontario make a distinction between “day-to-day” decisions and major decisions about a child’s wellbeing. Day-to-day decisions can include a child’s bedtime, social activities, and so on. Generally, each parent would have the right to make these day-to-day decisions when the child is in their care.

For more significant issues, such as education, religious upbringing, or medical care, courts may order that one parent will have the ability to make these decisions in the event of a conflict. In some cases, what would be a day-to-day decision can become more significant in a particular family. For example, if a child’s diet is strictly vegetarian, this could also be included in a parenting order to ensure both parents maintain consistency in this regard.

The Best Interests of the Child

In determining parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, the legislation and courts are clear that the interests of the child are paramount. All factors considered in parenting disputes, and as set out in federal and provincial legislation, place an emphasis on the child’s safety, wellbeing, and security above all else.

The Divorce Act includes a list of general criteria that may be reviewed, in addition to other factors specific to a particular family. These include:

  • The child’s relationship with each spouse, their siblings and other family members.
  • Each spouse’s willingness to support their child’s relationship with the other spouse.
  • The history of the child’s care.
  • The child’s views and preferences. Notably, this factor is given greater weight with older and more mature children.
  • The child’s cultural, religious, and linguistic upbringing.
  • Each spouse’s plans for the child’s care, including issues such as mobility or relocation.
  • The ability and willingness of each spouse to communicate and cooperate with one another regarding the child’s care.
  • Any history of family violence.

This is not an exhaustive list, as courts may consider other factors pertinent to a specific family’s circumstances if they have an impact on determining the child’s best interests.

Encouraging Collaboration for Parents & Children

If you are in the midst of a divorce or separation involving a parenting dispute, the lawyers at Shariff & Associates will help you reach an amicable solution, focusing on your child’s best interests above all else. We believe preserving or encouraging a productive and healthy parental dynamic significantly benefits every member of the family. As a result, we stress the importance of finding an amicable resolution to parenting disputes, even in high-conflict cases. We will do everything we can to minimize conflict and disruption to your child’s life and help your family move forward once the parenting arrangements are in place.

Contact Shariff & Associates: Markham Stouffville Family Lawyers Assisting with Parenting, Custody and Access Matters

The compassionate lawyers at Shariff & Associates work with clients throughout York Region, Durham Region, Vaughan, and Markham on parenting matters of all types. We understand this can be one of the most contentious and important issues for a couple following a separation or divorce. Our firm’s focus on collaborative family law places an emphasis on maintaining productive and healthy family relationships rather than encouraging conflict. We will review your specific circumstances with you and work to resolve your parenting matter quickly and with as little stress as possible. To arrange a consultation with a member of our team, please reach out to us online, or call us at 905-591-4545.

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