Myth VS Reality: “Parenting Time” and “Decision-Making”
The language of the Divorce Act has recently changed. One of the most relevant changes to parents is the move from talking about Custody and Access, to talking about Decision-Making and Parenting Time.
Myth: When I have custody of my children, that means they live with me all the time, right?
Reality: Part of the reason why the language has changed is because people generally misunderstand the meaning of the words we use. “Custody” is now called “Decision-Making” because that’s what we're really talking about.
1. Decision-making is about making major decisions with respect to education, medical care, religion, and extracurricular activities.
2. Decision-making can be divided in a few ways:
a) One parent has all decision-making responsibility:
b) Both parents share the decision-making responsibilities thereby requiring them to obtain each other’s consent; or,
c) Different parents are responsible for different areas. For example, one parent makes decisions about the child’s education while the other parent makes decisions regarding the child’s health.
Myth: I have sole Decision-Making, that means the children live with me all the time.
Reality: The simple answer is no. Where the children live depends on your Access arrangement. “Access” is now referred to as “Parenting-Time”. The parenting time schedule does not necessarily reflect who makes the major decisions for the children.
1. It is possible for one parent to have sole decision-making with the children living equally with both parents.
2. If you have your matter decided by a Judge in court, the Judge may consider the parenting time schedule when determining decision-making however, that is not guaranteed.
3. No two cases are the same and it is important to consider your circumstances prior to determining what sort of decision-making and/or parenting time arrangement you wish to arrange.
Myth: If we don’t agree on a decision that has to be made, a Judge has to decide for us.
Reality: Absolutely not! In fact, the new changes to the Divorce Act actually require you and your former spouse to consider alternative methods to Court in order to resolve their dispute. There are many options available for you, such as Mediation, Mediation/Arbitration, discussion with Lawyers, co-parenting counselling… there are almost too many to name!
Overall, decision-making, and parenting time are two separate areas in which parents provide care for their children. It is important to keep this in mind when determining what arrangements you believe are in your children’s best interests. As family lawyers, we study this, we are passionate about helping families with this, and we want to hear from you!
Connect with us HERE if you have questions or would like us to help you with your Parenting- Time and Decision Making. Alexandra Cohan, B.A. (Hons) J.D. Family Lawyer