Parenting Arrangements

Experienced Windsor Divorce Lawyers Assisting With Decision-Making Responsibility (Child Custody) & Parenting Time (Access)

Family dynamics are changing.  The modern family is seeing far more variation than the static nuclear family of the 20th century.  Divorce and divorce agreements are changing as well to accommodate these paradigm shifts in family structure.  Just a generation ago, divorce usually meant a custody situation in which decision-making responsibility was granted to the mother, with some partial responsibility or parenting time going to the father.  But it’s no longer a given that the father will work or generate the most income.  Nor is it a given that the split will be fraught with hostility.

As a result of these changing family dynamics, of the four main types of decision-making responsibility arrangements in Canada – sole, joint, shared, and split. Shared decision-making is the more common arrangement in Canadian divorce settlements.  Like joint decision-making responsibilities, shared decision-making responsibilities splits decision-making responsibility and living arrangements between both spouses, but where joint decision-making responsibility can vary greatly in terms of the division of time spent with each parent, shared decision-making responsibility generally refers to an arrangement where both parents spend a minimum of 40% of the time with their children.

Child’s Best Interests are Paramount in Determining Parenting Arrangements

Ultimately, the best interest of the child is paramount.  Parenting arrangements should take into account not only the scheduling and flexibility of the parent but that of the children.  Schooling, doctor visits, sports, and activities, all need to be taken into consideration when making any determinations regarding decision-making responsibility (formerly referred to as child custody) and parenting time (formerly referred to as child access).  Routine is an extremely important part of childhood development, as it reinforces stability, and while it can sometimes be difficult for parents to confront, children’s preferences can impact their feelings of stability and security.  Maintaining roles and routines as closely as possible to those prior to divorce or separation can be key.  A full examination of schedules is required to determine the best-case scenario for decision-making responsibility to maintain a happy, healthy daily routine for the children.

Modern variation and flexibility has also brought with it a change in the way decision-making responsibility and parenting time negotiations are handled.  It’s not uncommon for decision-making responsibility and parenting time to be leveraged to affect child support.  The logic being that if decision-making is shared almost equally, support payments should be too. 

Child Support in Ontario

In Ontario, child support is determined based on a formula and is payable along with additional expenses that are not covered by the formula, such as the cost of day care, post-secondary education and medical expenses. Our clients often come to us with questions such as: Who will pay child support and for how long? These inquiries must be addressed on an individual basis, as the laws are not completely clear in every situation.

Relocation and Parenting Time

While a lot of focus may fall on decision-making responsibility and/or child support payments, some of the most stressful and difficult disputes revolve around the issue of relocations.  A parent may relocate with children so long as the other parent’s access is not affected.  Disputes most commonly occur when the distance of the relocation negatively impacts parenting time. 

When one parent wants to relocate children, what should the expectation be with regards to decision-making and parenting time? 

  • Does the existing arrangement allow for relocation? 
  • What is the motivation for relocation? 
  • Can the relocation be blocked or disputed? 
  • At what point do the wishes of the children themselves become a determining factor? 
  • How do issues of disruption of the child’s access to family and/or school impact the decision to relocate? 

Our experienced divorce lawyers can help answer these and other questions as they arise when relocation becomes an issue during or after a divorce.

Contact the Windsor Divorce Lawyers at Johnson Miller Family Lawyers with Questions Regarding Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting-Time Arrangements

To speak with an experienced Windsor family law lawyer about divorce, decision-making responsibility, or parenting time,  call 519.973.1500, or contact us online. We serve clients in Windsor, Essex County and throughout the region.