Embracing Parenting Time in Ontario Family Law

Parenting Plan

Parenting plans play a vital role in shaping post-separation or divorce arrangements, particularly regarding matters concerning children. The sensitive nature of child-related issues requires the expertise and empathy of professionals like 2M Law, who can guide you toward a resolution that prioritizes your family’s best interests. This blog post explores the significance of parenting plans and their role in promoting healthy co-parenting relationships for the well-being of children and families.

Parenting time recognizes the fundamental importance of both parents in a child’s life and promotes meaningful and ongoing relationships between parents and children. This terminology change signifies a shift from the adversarial nature of custody battles towards a cooperative and collaborative approach of co-parenting the child(ren).

In recent years, Ontario family law has significantly transformed, reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of shared parenting responsibilities. One notable change is the shift from the traditional concept of “access”, which carried connotations of ownership and control, towards a more balanced and child-centric approach. The term “parenting time” has emerged as a more inclusive and equitable alternative, emphasizing the shared responsibilities of both parents. This article explores how this shift towards parenting time has redefined the determination childcare in Ontario’s family law system.

Parenting Plan Guide

Putting the Best Interests of the Children First

Under the parenting time framework, primary and secondary care designations are no longer used to categorize parents’ roles. Instead, the focus is on facilitating shared responsibility and ensuring both parents are actively involved in their child’s upbringing. Ontario family law now encourages parents to create parenting plans that outline how they will share time and responsibilities for their children, considering their unique circumstances.

The court’s primary consideration in determining parenting time arrangements is the child’s best interests. n Ontario, the determination of the best interests of the child is a guiding principle in family law matters. The specific section of the Family Law Rules that address the best interests of the children is Rule 24(4), which is futher explained in the Children’s Law Reform Act.

Rule 24(4) of the Family Law Rules states:

“In determining the best interests of a child, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including,

  1. The child’s needs, given the child’s age and stage of development, such as the child’s need for stability;
  2. The child’s views and preferences, if they can be reasonably ascertained;
  3. The child’s relationship and emotional ties with,
    1. Each person entitled to or claiming custody of or access to the child,
    2. Other members of the child’s family who are significant to the child’s care, well-being and development, and
    3. Persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing;
  4. The child’s cultural and linguistic heritage;
  5. The child’s care, upbringing, and well-being, and
    1. The history of the child’s care, upbringing, and well-being, including any history of family violence, and
    2. The child’s views and preferences to the extent that it is appropriate to ascertain them;
  6. The nature and strength of the child’s relationship with each sibling, and
    1. Each sibling’s views and preferences, if they can be reasonably ascertained, or
    2. If it is appropriate to ascertain each sibling’s views and preferences;
  7. The child’s need for stability, given the child’s age and stage of development;
  8. The ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessaries of life, and any special needs of the child;
  9. The plan proposed by each person applying for custody of or access to the child for the child’s care and upbringing;
  10. The permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live;
  11. The ability of each person applying for custody of or access to the child to act as a parent; and
  12. The relationship by blood or through an adoption order between the child and each person who is a party to the case.

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and the court may consider additional factors relevant to each case’s specific circumstances. The court’s primary goal is to ensure that any decisions regarding custody, access, or parenting time are in the child’s best interests.

Embracing Co-Parenting

The shift to parenting time promotes co-parenting as a preferred approach. Co-parenting involves shared decision-making and cooperation between parents to create a nurturing and stable environment for their children. It encourages open communication, flexibility, and mutual respect, even when parents have separated or divorced.

Parents are encouraged to seek mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods before resorting to litigation to facilitate successful co-parenting. Mediation provides a platform for parents to engage in constructive dialogue and reach agreements that work in the best interests of their children.

Contact 2M Law today for a confidential consultation. Our dedicated team is ready to listen to your concerns. They can assess your circumstances, provide personalized advice, and help you navigate the complexities of family law.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on general knowledge and understanding of the topic. For legal guidance regarding your specific situation, consulting with a qualified family law lawyer is recommended.

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