At the time of separation or when contemplating a divorce, spouses face a series of challenges. One of the most important is how to deal with parenting issues of children of the marriage / relationship.
New legislative changes are being introduced to reflect the modern approach of parenting. “Custody and “access” terms are being replaced by “parenting time” to emphasize the need for both parents’ involvement in their children’s lives. Parents often became boxed into “primary caregivers” or “access and uninvolved parents”. Their legal claims also followed their respective description: a primary caregiver did everything for the children – from feeding them, taking them to school, taking them to the doctor’s or dentist office, playing with them, helping with homework, etc. An access parent, on the other hand, was seen as univolved and removed from day-to-day decisions about the children’s lives because they were only around once a week and on alternate weekends.
The new legislative decisions focus on encouraging quality parenting time between parents and children, as opposed to favouring one parent over the other. Children can benefit from positive and meaningful relationships with both their mather and father, so parenting time is encouraged with both parents (even on an equal basis if both parents reside close to one-another).
Decisions related to parenting, residency or living arrangements of the children, schooling, and travel can have a great emotional impact upon the children of the marriage or the relationship. This is why they often take priority and affect decisions separated spouses make regarding property division, support, change of residence if the matrimonial home is sold, etc. Having an experienced divorce lawyer by your side can help protect your and your children’s legal interests.
The parent with whom the children reside primarily, or most of the time, often makes the daily decisions about the children’s care and well-being. Major legal decisions, such as those related to children’s schooling / education, major non-emergency healthcare, major recreational activities and religion can be made by one parent, both parents, or third parties (when neither parent is available or is incapable of making those deicions).
Parallel parenting regimes can also be negotiated by spouses in cases where they can agree on which parent takes over which decisions about the children. In other words, parallel parenting has clearly defined areas of decision-making assigned to each parent.
This refers to the actual time each parent spends with the children during a given week. Depending upon how close or far separated spouses live from one-another, the parenting time with the children cn be equally divided or disproportionately divided. One parent may have more time with the children during week days, whereas the other parent can take over on week nights. Parenting time has to be realistic and practical, depending upon each spouse’s work schedule, living arrangements, access to a vehicle, etc. The children’s best interests are to be prioritized at all times.
If the separation process is relatively amicable, spouses can choose to negotiate or mediate parenting issues. Family lawyers can certainly facilitate and speed up resolution in such cases by making both spouses aware of the legal and practical decisions involved when dealing with children-related issues.
Where spouses cannot agree and are confrontational or aggressive towards one-another, litigation may be the only available option to resove their parenting issues.
The legal test to meet in such cases is “what is in the best interests of the children”. A family court considers a series of factors when applying this test, some of which include:
- Wishes and preferences of child (if the child is old enough to make these known);
- Parents’ physical and mental health, as well as financial circumstances;
- Cultural and religious factors;
- Presence and continuity of a stable home atmosphere;
- Child’s level of adjustment in a given community, neighbourhood and school, etc.
How We Can Help
At Nanda & Associate Lawyers, our excellent divorce lawyers take the time to understand your specific circumstances and provide tailored and customized solutions. Many legal complexities can materialize when seeking to resolve parenting issues. Let our experienced lawyers guide through this process, so that your children’s best interests are prioritized and assured on a moving forward basis.
Our Mississauga Divorce Lawyers are available for a no-obligation free consultation. Come and experience our quality legal counsel and personalized care we provide to each of our clients.