Ontario Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time Variations
Changing Decision-Making Responsibility, Parenting Time and Parenting Arrangements
In order to change an existing decision-making responsibility or parenting time arrangement (if your matter is governed by the Children’s Law Reform Act) or parenting time and decision-making arrangement (if your matter is governed by the Divorce Act), you must apply to the court to “vary” (change) the previous order. To succeed with a variation application, you must be able to prove to the court that there has been a change in the “circumstances of the child since the making of the order or the last variation order” (Divorce Act, s. 17(5) ).
While the Divorce Act permits an order to be varied, the threshold for establishing a material change, as set out in the case law, is a difficult one to meet. The particularly high threshold helps to ensure that parties may rely on orders made by the court, and to prevent the overburdening of the judicial system with immaterial claims.
However, parents may have pressing and legitimate reasons for wanting to change existing orders. For example, a parent may need to relocate to another region for the purposes of work or education, or the type of decision-making responsibility or parenting time agreed upon might no longer be a viable solution for the parties involved.
Canadian Case Law on Changing Decision-Making Responsibility, Parenting Time or Parenting Time
In Gordon v. Goertz, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that for the court to find that the material change threshold is met, the judge must be satisfied that there has been:
- A change in the condition, means, needs, or circumstances of the child or in the ability of the parents to meet the needs of the child,
- Which materially affects the child, and
- Which was either not foreseen or could not have been reasonably contemplated by the judge who made the initial order.
This third part of the test, that the change was not foreseen or in the reasonable contemplation of the judge who made the initial order, is the most difficult aspect of the test to meet.
For example, a parent who wants to move to be with a new partner may try to argue that the relationship constitutes a material change, but the court may find that, if that relationship was in existence (even in a very preliminary stage) at the time of the original order, it does not represent a change.
See the Child Support Forms section for information on how to apply to vary a court order.
A Skilled Lawyer Can Guide You
The variation process is both time consuming and complex and may require legal expertise. An experienced lawyer can be a valuable resource if you are contemplating a variation to an existing order or agreement.
At Feldstein Family Law Group P.C., we can deliver a range of legal services tailored to your needs and budget. From complete representation to drafting or consulting services, we can help you approach a variation in decision-making responsibility or parenting time.
Andrew Feldstein Founder
Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.
Daphna Schwartz Lawyer
Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously practising family law in the Barrie area. Her practice includes all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and property issues. Daphna is also qualified to practise Collaborative Family Law.
Anna Troitschanski Lawyer
Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
Nick Slinko Lawyer
Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and Philosophy. Nick graduated in 2007 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree. He proceeded to earn a Juris Doctor in Law at the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Nick was Called to the Bar in June of 2012 after completing his Articling term with the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. He became an associate with the firm immediately thereafter.
Veronica Yeung Lawyer
Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.
Veronica attended York University for her undergraduate studies and graduated as a member of the Dean’s Honour Roll when she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Honours Criminology.
Shana Gordon-Katz Lawyer
Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.
Shana attended the University of Western Ontario for her undergraduate studies, where she graduated as the gold medalist of her program, Honors Specialization in Classical Studies.
Rachel Zweig Lawyer
Rachel joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C as a Summer Student in 2019 and returned as an Articling Student in 2020-2021. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in April 2021, Rachel was welcomed back to the firm as an Associate.
Prior to completing her legal studies and obtaining her Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa, Rachel obtained her Bachelor’s Degree at Ryerson University with a major in English Literature.
Lauren Harvey Associate Lawyer
Lauren joined Feldstein Family Law Group as a Summer Student in 2020 and returned as an Articling Student in 2021-2022. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in April 2022, Lauren was welcomed back to the firm as an Associate.
Prior to completing her legal studies and obtaining her Juris Doctor at the University of Western Ontario, Lauren obtained her Honour’s Bachelor of Arts Degree at Wilfrid Laurier University majoring in Criminology and minoring in Law and Society.
Quinn Held Associate Lawyer
Quinn spent two years as a Summer Student and then completed her Articling term at a boutique Family Law firm in Orangeville, where she was exposed to various complex Family Law matters. Following her Call to the Bar of Ontario in June 2022, she became an Associate with the Feldstein Family Law Group.
Prior to obtaining her Juris Doctor from the University of Windsor, Quinn obtained her Honour’s Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Guelph majoring in Criminal Justice and Public Policy and minoring in International Development.