Hello, my name is Shazia Hafiji and I am an associate at the Feldstein Family Law Group.
When parents separate, it is inevitable that the issues of custody and access will need to be immediately dealt with.
It is important to understand that custody refers to decision making; whilst access refers to how much time each child will spend in each parent’s physical care.
In this video blog, I will focus on the shared parenting arrangement as it relates to separating families with young children.
In a shared parenting arrangement, the child(ren) reside with each parent no less than 40% of the time. Practically, a shared parenting regime may be implemented so that each parent has parenting time with the children on a weekly basis or the children reside with each parent on alternating weekends and the weekdays are divided between the parents.
Parents often wish to pursue a shared parenting arrangement as this allows both parents to have relatively the same (or equal) amount of time with the children.
Typically, the shared parenting regime is successfully implemented in situations where both parents are able to effectively communicate with respect to the children.
In establishing the shared parenting arrangement, it is imperative that the parents agree to all terms and conditions relating to this access schedule. More specifically, the rights and obligations of the parent without physical custody must be clearly defined so that the arrangement is as normal and consistent for the children as possible. For example, it may be helpful to identify when and how the non-access parent can contact the children while they are with the other parent.
Historically, there has been a presumption in favour of young children maintaining their primary residence with the mother; however, with the recent change of the family dynamic and as fathers are becoming more actively involved in the care of their children, courts have recently provided fathers with liberal access schedules after separation.
Nonetheless, the move towards equal parenting for young children is a slow one and is yet to become the norm. While there are practical reasons why fathers must have limited access time with their young children, such as where young children are being nursed, even absent such conditions, courts are still reluctant to give the father an equal number of overnights with young children.
As such, while the outcome of each case depends on the individual fact scenario and the established status quo, it is important for separating fathers of young children to understand that given the current state of the law, it is not likely that an equal split of time will automatically be granted (absent some compelling reason to do so). Instead, it is important for parents to understand that while an equal division of time is not entirely out of the picture, it is likely to occur gradually and over time.
For more information on shared parenting, please visit our website at www.separation.ca or contact our office at 905-581-7222 to schedule a free initial in-office consultation.