Parenting Time and Decision Making (formerly “Custody and Access”)

An Updated Approach to Custody and Access

In March of 2021, the courts in Ontario stopped using the terms “Custody” and “Access”. Now cases involving parenting determine “Parenting Time” and “Decision Making” for children.

The Best Interests Test

Although the terminology has recently changed, the legal standard has not. To determine parenting time and decision making arrangements the court will look to the child’s best interests.

Parenting has a High Potential for Conflict

The imprecision involved in determining best interests frequently results in high conflict between parties. Cases often arise where parties take conflicting views of what best meets their children’s needs.

Unless parties can agree on these issues, parenting time and decision making often present the greatest challenges to settlement of a case. In addition, the needs of children change as they mature so this means that the optimal plan for their care can change over time.

There are various ways of describing parenting arrangements. The removal of the terms “custody” and “access” sought to reduce conflict and eliminate the perception of a “winner” and a “loser”. The effect of this change remains unclear. That said, collaborative approach to parenting generally serves the child best.

In the event of a trial or motion, decisions will be based on findings of fact. This in turn will depend on the credibility of parties and their ability to muster evidence in support of their positions. This has the potential to create further conflict and entrench it in the long term.

Parenting Arrangements and Support

When one parent has the child for more than 60% of the time, then the other parent will have a child support obligation. When neither parent has more than 60% of the time with the child, then this means the parents have a “shared parenting” arrangement. It can significantly affect support.

Speak to a Lawyer about Parenting Arrangements

Each case involving parenting issues is unique and fact specific. Please contact us should you require further information.