The parties separated in 2022 after residing together for approximately 7 years. During their relationship, they had one child together at the time of this case was 6 years old.
The father is seeking joint decision-making responsibility and shared parenting time on a 2-2-3 schedule. The mother claims that shared parenting and decision-making is not possible and is seeking sole-decision-making responsibility and primary residence and care of the child, and further asks the court for an Order for the parenting time that coincides with the temporary consent Order that gives the father parenting time every Wednesday overnight to Thursday, and every other weekend.
The father alleges that the mother has unilaterally dictated parenting time and has unreasonably withheld their child and has engaged in alienating behaviors. He states that he reluctantly agreed to the parenting time set in the consent Order out of desperation.
He claims his relationship with his child is very positive, and as such he is seeking additional parenting time to strengthen their bond. The father has expressed concerns that the mother does not regularly bring the child to school.
The mother denies that she has unreasonably withheld their child or has engaged in alienating behavior. She also denies that any concerns about the child’s attendance at school.
The mother further states that when the parties were together, she was the primary caregiver as the father worked long hours. She also had concerns about the fathers drinking and drug use, and his rough play with their child. She further alleges she was assaulted by the father in July of 2022, resulting in the father being charged and removed from the home in November of 2022. The father subsequently had no parenting time during the following Christmas break. She alleges this abuse was one of many instances of abuse that took place throughout the party’s relationship, which often took place in front of their child.
- Decision-making, and
The court noted that the law requires consideration of family violence when making a parenting order. As there were outstanding charges that had not been resolved, and a no-contact order, the court held that this was a high conflict case and due to the lack of trust and communication, a 2-2-3 schedule and shared decision-making would not be possible, nor would it be in the best interests of the party’s child.
The court elaborated by stating that joint decision-making in these circumstances could perpetuate the power struggles and hostility between the parents which could create delay and indecision which is not in their child’s best interests.
The court also considered the mother’s position that their child has been thriving on the current routine, and that a 2-2-3 schedule would be a very different schedule than the child is used to and may be problematic given the criminal court restrictions on the party’s communications. Further, the court noted that in most situations, the familiar arrangement should be maintained, and the court does not usually change a status quo for temporary parenting orders unless there are compelling circumstances, which they failed to find in this case.
The court notably stated that their decision does not mean that a 2-2-3 schedule and shared decision-making would not be possible in the future and such issues could be revisited as time passes and if trust and communication is subsequently built.
The court then went on to note the mother’s attempts to offer parenting time to the father. For example, she agreed to modify the no contact order to enable him to pick up and drop off their child at school and proposed expanding the current schedule to include the extra day on holiday weekends. The court held that such behavior by the mother did not support the father’s allegations that she had unreasonably withheld their child, nor engaged in alienating behavior.
The court concluded their analysis by encouraging the parties to focus on how to support their child through parenting exchanges by creating more certainty and security in the parenting schedule, which can be achieved by following the consent Order at all times until it is changed by a further agreement or court order. The court also reminded the parties to not speak negatively about each other to their child, and to refrain from speaking about adult or legal issues with him.
The court ordered that the mother shall have temporary sole-decision making responsibility and the parties shall have parenting time in accordance with the previous consent Order.