Child Custody

& Parenting Time

Child Custody & Parenting Time

Central to many family law disputes is determining who the children should live and spend time with, how they will be raised, and how much time they spend with each parent (called “parenting time”). Responsibility for making important decisions affecting their lives (called “parenting responsibilities”) must be split between the parties. It is important to agree on a “parenting schedule” that fits the needs of both parents and the children. For example, is a shared custody arrangement such as “week on, week off” or “2-2-5-5” best, or should one parent have most of the parenting time? Are the kids old enough to handle the time away from the other parent? How will holidays and other special days be split? The answers to these questions will differ depending on the ages and needs of the children as well as the unique skills and circumstances of the parents. The federal Divorce Act speaks of ‘custody’ and ‘access’ when dealing with these issues. BC legislation speaks of ‘guardianship’, ‘parental responsibilities’, ‘parenting time’ and ‘contact’. Both sets of law emphasize “the best interests of the children” as the paramount factor.

These can be complicated issues to sort out even for parents who are relatively friendly with each other. Where however the parents disagree strongly on key issues, where one party is unreasonable or abusive, or where there is a high level conflict in the relationship, it becomes tougher to resolve.  A special report – called a “needs of the child report”, “views of the child report”, or “hear the child report” – may be needed from a counsellor or psychologist to help the parties or the court determine what is best for the children. Sometimes, one parent is engaging in unhealthy conduct that amounts to parental alienation. This can have similar effects as child estrangement, and these cases must be handled effectively so the child-parent relationship is not unduly harmed.

Negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or med-arb are ways to resolve these disputes. Sometimes, where one party is taking an unfair or unreasonable position, court applications or trials are required.

Consult with Laschuk Law to see what your rights, obligations and privileges may be in this extremely important area. We will help you view your dispute through the lens of what is best for your child(ren).

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