The parties to the proceeding are the parents of a three-year-old child. The parties did not have any disagreement surrounding joint-decision making but were unable to come to a consensus regarding a parenting schedule. The Applicant, sought a 2-2-3 schedule for parenting time. This suggested schedule would have the child transition between her parent’s home every Monday at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., and Friday at 5:30 p.m. The schedule sought by the Respondent, would require the child to transition Mondays at 4:00 p.m., Tuesday at 4:00 p.m., alternate Fridays at 4:00 p.m. and then alternate Sundays at 4:00 p.m.
In addition, the parties also disagreed about where the child should attend daycare. The Applicant wanted the child to be placed in a child care facility which is close to where both parties work. The Respondent sought for the court to place the child in more expensive child care which was close to the Respondent’s residence and not close to their work.
In response to the parenting plan issue, the court noted that their analysis must be governed by the best interests of the child within the overall context of each suggested parenting plan. The court considered the Parenting Guidelines prepared by the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) to assist in determining which parenting plan is best for the child. One of the suggestions from the AFCC is that the parenting plan selected should minimize the number of transitions for the child while ensuring that the child is able to spend as much time with each parent. Transitions are recognized as stressful points in the life of the child and reducing the number of these transitions is ideal.
In determining the best interests of a child in the context of daycare, the court will consider quality of the program, transit time, contingency planning, stability and cost. The court gave considerable weight to the location of the parent’s respective homes in relation to the daycare, and highlighted the following factors for additional consideration:
- The Applicant’s choice for child care is very close to both parents’ work. Should the child be ill or suffer an injury, either parent can be there almost immediately.
- If the child was enrolled in the Applicant’s choice then the child will be picked up earlier.
- If either parent can get away from work a bit early, and the child is placed at the Applicant’s choice of day care she or he will have a greater opportunity during regular hours to interact with the child’s instructors, or to stay for a few minutes and engage in activities with the child.
- The Applicant’s choice is approximately $300 less a month, a not insignificant amount.
The court identified that the Applicant’s suggested parenting schedule offered a more child centred approach. This schedule was viewed as providing a greater amount of stability in the life of the child as it reduced the number of transitions. With respect to the issue of daycare, the court ruled that the Applicant’s suggestion was more beneficial to the child.