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A divorce brings forth many questions and challenges, and one of the most critical aspects to consider is how decision-making responsibility and parenting time will be allocated for your child as per the Children’s Law Reform Act or the Divorce Act. Determining these aspects is a crucial decision that can profoundly impact your child’s well-being and future. This process can be emotionally charged, but you can make decisions that prioritize your child’s best interests with the proper understanding and guidance.

Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time Options

In Ontario and federally, the terms ‘custody’ and ‘access’ are no longer used and are instead replaced by: 

  1. Decision-Making Responsibility: This aspect involves determining which parent will have the legal authority and responsibility for making important decisions about the child’s life. These decisions include those related to their education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. ‘Joint-custody’ refers to joint decision-making authority. 
  2. Parenting Time: Parenting time refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the child. It encompasses both day-to-day care and overnight stays. The allocation of parenting time is a critical consideration when determining the child’s living arrangements.

Determining Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time

The court’s primary concern when determining these aspects is the best interests of the child, as outlined in the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act. Here are several factors the court may consider:

  1. Child’s Wishes: If the child is of an appropriate age and maturity, their preferences regarding decision-making responsibility and parenting time may be taken into account.
  2. Stability and Continuity: The court may evaluate which parent can provide a stable and consistent environment for the child.
  3. Parenting Skills: The court will assess each parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs.
  4. Support Systems: The presence of extended family, friends, and other support systems can be considered.
  5. Geographical Location: The proximity of each parent’s home to the child’s school and community may be a factor.
  6. Work Schedule: The court may examine each parent’s work schedule to determine their availability for the child.
  7. History of Abuse or Neglect: Any history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse can significantly impact decisions regarding decision-making responsibility and parenting time.

Negotiating Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time

Many parents can work together to reach an agreement outside of court regarding decision-making responsibility and parenting time. This can be achieved through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law processes, aligning with the Children’s Law Reform Act or the Divorce Act. These approaches prioritize cooperation and can help parents tailor arrangements to fit their unique circumstances and the best interests of the child.

Navigating these matters can be emotionally challenging, but it’s essential to prioritize your child’s well-being, as stipulated by the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced family lawyer, such as Gelman & Associates, can help you understand your rights, responsibilities, and options under either Act, depending on your circumstances. 

Remember, the goal is to create arrangements that provide your child with a stable, loving, and supportive environment after divorce, in accordance with the Children’s Law Reform Act or the Divorce Act. With the right approach and support, you can make this transition as smooth as possible for your child.

If you have questions about decision-making responsibility, parenting time or need legal assistance, contact Gelman & Associates today. Our dedicated team is here to help you and your child through this process.

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