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How will the courts decide parenting time?

As a preliminary note, “parenting time” is the new term that will be implemented by upcoming changes to the federal Divorce Act, now slated for 2021. It refers to the time during which someone in the role of a parent is responsible for the child (and includes time away, for example when the child is in school or daycare). Each parent with parenting time will be entitled to make day-to-day decisions about a child when he or she is in their care, unless a court orders otherwise.

Next, as with all decisions relating to children, Canadian family courts will make their orders as to parenting time based on what is in the best interests of the child.   Under the upcoming changes, Courts are required to give “primary consideration” to that goal, after examining a legislated list of factors; the child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being is uppermost among them.

There is no presumption that each parent should get equal parenting time;  however, there is what is known as the “maximum contact principle” that promotes that the child should ideally spend as much time as possible with each parent.


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