Whitby Child Custody Lawyers Explains Decision-Making Responsibilities
“Decision-making responsibility” is the new term that will be replacing the term “custody” in the Divorce Act, and although there are no plans yet to adopt the same language Provincially, the Ontario Family Law Act, and Children’s Law Reform Act, have noted by the Lieutenant-General to prepare for introducing language matching the Divorce Act language. The legislature realized that the term custody was outdated, confusing, and meaningless to the general public. The removal of the term “custody” will allow everyone to better understand what it is they are asking the Court for. Similarly, the term “access” is being replaced by “contact” or “parenting time”.
Parents, and other applicants, should now ask for the right to make decisions for their children in addition to requesting specific parenting time with them. These are two completely separate issues to be resolved, and a Court can award any number of combinations of both of those issues. For example, the parents might be granted joint decision-making responsibility regarding the children, even if that child lives primarily with one parent and only spends alternate weekends of parenting time with the other parent.
Decision-making responsibility includes the right to make decisions regarding a child’s health, education, religion, extra-curricular activities, travel, and residency. These are extremely important decisions for any child and will directly shape how they grow and develop. If two people are jointly appointed, they will have to work together for the best interests of the children. A lack of communication, differing views or an inability to co-operate with one another could seriously hamper the children. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that the person(s) chosen to make these important decisions, will keep the children’s best interests in mind, and not their personal feelings about the other parent.
Whether or not you have decision-making responsibility for your child, if you are entitled to parenting time, you are also entitled to access information regarding your child without impediment by the other parent. Such information includes obtaining report cards and attending parent-teacher interviews; speaking with tutors or therapists treating the child; speaking with the soccer coach and attending practices and games; speaking with the doctor(s) and dentist about the child’s progress or illness, and so forth.
Assessing how decision-making responsibility is shared is an integral part of a family lawyer’s job when assisting clients. There are many factors that are taken into consideration, including each parent’s role before separation, however, the most important factor is always what is in the child’s best interests moving forward. At M. G. Michaels & Associates, we understand that parenting arrangement are usually a top priority for separating parents. Our child custody lawyers are standing by to assist you.