Parenting arrangements include who the children live with and where, the time the children spend with each parent, and who will make decisions about the children. Decisions about the children range from small daily decisions to bigger decisions such as medical care and choosing schools.
There are two laws that apply to parenting arrangements:
- The federal Divorce Act applies to married parents who apply for a divorce. The Divorce Act applies throughout Canada and it uses the terms custody and access for parenting arrangements.
- The British Columbia Family Law Act applies to both married and unmarried parents in British Columbia. It uses the terms guardianship, parental responsibilities, parenting time, and contact.
In both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act, the only test for parenting arrangements is the best interests of the children. The best interests of the children may be different in each case, depending on all of the circumstances.
Some cases involve not only the parents but also other family members, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, and step-parents. The Divorce Act and the Family Law Act, with the test of the best interests of the children, apply in these situations as well.
Parenting arrangements are often the most contentious and stressful for the parties. We have extensive experience in dealing with parenting matters in a broad range of circumstances, including abuse and domestic violence, parenting arrangements for children with disabilities or special needs, cases in which a parent attempts to damage the relationship between the children and the other parent, and matters involving other family members. We recognize that each situation is unique and we focus on the best interests of the children. Please contact us for advice and further information.