In this case, the father brought a Motion seeking either that the children reside primarily with him (as per the Office of the Children’s Lawyer’s recommendations) or a week-on, week-off summer schedule to continue until a final resolution of the matters was reached. The mother argued that the interim access order should continue until a final decision was made.
Pursuant to the interim access order already in place at the time of this Motion, the children were with their father each school day from the end of school until 7:30 p.m. when they would return to their Mother’s home. This order worked well until the mother decided to relocate from Markham to Newmarket. This resulted in the children spending approximately an hour and a half travelling between homes every weekday. The only time they were not required to continuously transition from one place to another was on weekends and for four weeks during the summer when they were able to spend two weeks with each parent consecutively.
In her decision, Justice McGee focused on the best interests of the children as outlined in s. 24 of the Children’s Law Reform Act:
24. (1) The merits of an application under this Part in respect of custody of or access to a child shall be determined on the basis of the best interests of the child, in accordance with subsections (2), (3) and (4).
Justice McGee determined that she would implement the week about schedule suggested by the father until a final resolution of the matter. She deemed this to be in the best interests of the children as it would greatly reduce the amount of time spent in a car, travelling between locations. She stated that “Time in a car is not parenting time, nor is it a place where preteens can develop social skills with friends, do homework, engage in play and pastime, or simply relax after a challenging day.” Moreover, a week-on, week-off access schedule would result in fewer interactions between the parties and consequently less conflict, which would reduce stress and anxiety for the children who would be subjected to said parental hostility. She stressed that this week about access schedule would provide the children with routine and structure and would overall addresses their needs and thus allows their parents to more effectively meet them.