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In divorce proceedings, the court usually awards child custody to one of the parents. This limits the other parent to only having visitation rights. 

In some cases, both parents are able to reach an agreement by themselves on which one should get custody. This is the more amicable route. 

However, it is also common for the courts to decide when the parents cannot. Either way, the entire process can be gruelling for all parties involved.

The process might be difficult, but you can do something about it. Enlightening yourself could make the situation bearable and help you make better decisions. 

Parenting Visitation Rights Before the New Divorce Act

Canada’s Divorce Act outlines each step of the process, as well as what comes after. Most provinces follow the same guidelines, with the possibility for localized changes.

On March 1, 2021, the new Divorce Act came into effect, which changed a few key terms. Some of the changes involved terminology surrounding parenting arrangements after divorce.

If you’ve received a court order before the new Divorce Act, it is still applicable. You will just have to learn the corresponding terminologies introduced in the new Act. 

What used to be custody is now “decision-making responsibility and parenting time.” Access for the spouse is now “parenting time.” For individuals who are not the spouse, the new Divorce Law has changed “access” into “contact.”

It’s important to learn these new terminologies in case of new policies or an update in the case.

  • Dos to Protect Custody and Visitation

    • As much as possible, work with your ex in deciding the best possible parental arrangement for your child.
    • Be involved in your child’s life.
    • Take the time to document everything, especially if you feel that your child is not safe to be with your ex.

  • Don’ts to Protect Custody and Visitation

    • Intervene if it’s time for your ex to visit your child.
    • Have last-minute changes in your parenting time schedules.
    • Trash talk your ex to the children.

Parenting Visitation Rights After the New Divorce Act

The change in terminology, although seemingly minor, is there for a reason. The new definitions focus more on the tasks involved in each role. They clarify each party’s responsibility in caring for the child.  

Divorce can be difficult to go through for everyone, especially the child. Discussing parenting arrangements can help create the best scenarios for child care. It might be a big change to go through, but it helps lessen the pain and confusion for all parties.

Whether the parents or the court reach an agreement, parenting plans help everyone. It sets certain boundaries and responsibilities that put the child’s interests first.

Decision-making responsibility involves the responsibility to make important decisions for the child’s well-being. This can include decisions for your child’s health, education, and culture, among others. 

There are three types considering each parent’s degree of involvement. These are sole, joint, and split decision-making responsibilities. 

In each of these arrangements, every parent has different degrees of responsibility. The judge carefully weighs each parent’s capabilities and willingness to provide. The child’s well-being is always the top priority in every decision.

Do keep in mind that these aren’t rigid systems. You can reach an agreement that works for the family and have your lawyers record it.

Joint Decision-Making Responsibility

Joint decision-making responsibility means both parents share equal decision-making responsibilities. This requires both parents to have an amicable co-parenting relationship despite the divorce

Both parents have to prove their capability to keep a harmonious co-parenting relationship. Otherwise, the court might not grant this type of decision-making responsibility.

Sole Decision-Making Responsibility

In this arrangement, only one parent has the responsibility to make critical decisions for the child’s well-being. 

The other parent still has the right to express suggestions for the child’s well-being. But, the parent with the decision-making responsibility will have the final say.

Split Decision-Making Responsibility

Split decision-making responsibility is not as common as the other arrangements. This is when each parent has sole decision-making responsibility for at least one of their children. 

For example, the father would have sole custody of the son, and the mother would have sole custody of the daughter. This is a pretty rare choice since courts do not usually prefer splitting siblings up. Courts usually apply this when the children are old enough to have a preferred parent.

De Facto Decision-Making Responsibility

This is when you do not have a legal decision-making responsibility arrangement. You and your spouse live separately and your children live with you full-time. But, you did not sign an agreement, nor did the courts decide this for you.

This setup can work if all parties are willing. But, without a legal agreement, it will be more difficult to assert your rights. Before any conflict arises, it might be best to draft an agreement with a family lawyer. You can also take the case to court and ask for a court order.

Considerations for the Parents Visitation Rights 

The new Divorce Law includes the factors that courts must consider. These factors guide each party in finding the best course of action for the child’s welfare.

Best Interests Factors

The court must prioritize the child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being. 

These factors are the first things courts must consider when reaching a decision. These heavily influence the child’s quality of life.

Other Factors

Aside from the primary concerns, the court may also consider other factors. These can include:

  • the child’s needs at their stage of life.
  • parenting and care arrangements for the child, including future plans.
  • the child’s relationships with their parents, relatives, and other key individuals.
  • cultural matters, such as religion, spirituality, and heritage, including Indigenous heritage.

The courts will also consider the parents’ capabilities in caring for the child. This may be through a solo, joint, or split arrangement.

Another critical factor is the history or presence of family violence. The court has to assess whether any family member poses a risk to the child’s welfare. If not, they could determine the parents’ capability to protect the child from violence.

The factors that the court considers aren’t limited to the ones on this list. The primary factors still take precedence. The court may also bring up other factors relevant to the child’s well-being.

Different Types of Parenting Time 

Supervised parenting time A third party must be present during each visit. This helps foster a neutral and safe environment for everyone involved. The third party can be a neutral friend, family member, or professional.
Shared parenting time Parents share the amount of time spent with the child. Under this arrangement, the child lives at least 40% of the time with each parent.
Split parenting time This is for families with more than one child. In this setup, each parent has at least one child spending a majority of their time with them.


Spend more time with your kids by negotiating a better parenting time schedule with the help of the expert lawyers from Gelman & Associates.

Pro Tip

“Don’t neglect minute details when you negotiate your parenting time schedule with your former spouse.”

– Gelman & Associates


Contact Gelman & Associates Today

As a parent in this situation, your best course of action would be to consult a lawyer. This is a critical time to set conditions that will help your relationship in the long run. 

Gelman & Associates will gladly help you get more time with your kids. We understand this is a challenging time. We know how much you value your children and your relationship with them.

Our family lawyers will guide you with compassion and understanding while making sure to address your legal needs and defend your rights.

Parenting arrangements can take many different forms. Getting parent visitation rights is critical in maintaining good family relationships. To make sure you approach this in the right way, contact us for a consultation.

Parent Visitation Rights FAQs

In most cases, the answer is no. However, there can be some exceptions that the mother can build a case upon. These include the father putting the child at risk, non-compliance with the court order, or a history of violence by the father.

Your first action must be to resolve communication issues. This might be a result of a misunderstanding. If communicating doesn’t help, you can talk to a lawyer to clarify the terms of the agreement. If your ex still doesn’t let up, you can ask the court to help enforce the parenting arrangement and/or parenting time order.

If you deny court-approved parenting time, it could be a possibility. The court may find you in contempt. You may also have to compensate the other person for any lost parenting time or legal fees they had to pay to enforce the parenting arrangement.

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