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Decision making responsibility and parenting time in Ontario

With effect from March 1, 2021, the word ‘custody’ has been replaced by concepts which are more centered with the relation with the children, such as decision making responsibility, parenting time and contact. Let’s dive into this topic today from a family lawyer perspective.

Decision making responsibility

When two partners separate, a question of care of their children arises. There are various aspects of the child’s life decisions that are crucial to their well being. These may include:

  • Health;
  • Religion;
  • Education;
  • Other;

This decision making responsibility can be vested in both parents, one parent or, in some cases, even non-parents.

Sole decision-making responsibility

If either by agreement between the parents, or by a court order, a sole decision making responsibility is granted to one parent, this would give that parent the authority to make all important decisions for the child regarding his/her health, religion, education and others in his/her best interest, without any prior consultation or agreement with the other parent.

Joint decision-making responsibility

This type of parenting plan involves the parents to act together while making important decisions for their children, by prioritizing the welfare of their child(ren) over their ongoing conflicts with each other. This is achievable by a healthy dialogue and cooperation between the parents.

De facto decision-making responsibility

This type of parenting plan occurs when there is no agreement or court order to vest the decision making responsibility upon any parent (or both). In such a situation, if the parents are living separately and by acceptance of the other parent, one parent lives with the child(ren) full-time, that primary caretaker parent will have the de facto decision making responsibility of the child(ren) involved. 

Parenting time

Parenting time refers to the time that you can spend with your child , that is, they are under your care and supervision. Parenting time also grants the parent the right to the knowledge of their child(ren)’s important life aspects, such as, health, education, and other things. Only parents can apply for parenting time, however, non-parents can apply for contact.

Shared parenting time

This parenting plan provides both the parents to have the child(ren) under their respective care and and supervision. According to the Child Support Guidelines, a shared parenting plan involves at least 40% parenting time with one parent.

Supervised parenting time

When the safety of the child(ren) and/or the other parent is a concern, this type of parenting plan can be opted for. Under this type of parenting plan, a neutral third party is present during the exchange of child(ren) between the parents or when one parent is visiting the child(ren).

Split parenting time

This type of parenting plan comes into place when there are more than one children involved, and each parent has at least one child within their care majority of the time.

Grounds of refusal of parenting time.

Parenting time can be denied to a parent if the court is of the opinion that parenting time with a parent poses a potential threat that:

  • The child may be harmed;
  • The parent with the decision-making responsibility may be harmed; or
  • The child will not be returned to the other parent.

*Note: This article is not intended to provide any legal advice to any reader. All cases and scenarios are different, which might have different legal course to their potential success. It is advised that you seek a legal expert’s opinion to know what provisions and exceptions apply to your case, in your best interest.

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