Questions & Answers

What is the difference between custody and decision-making responsibility?

Decision-making responsibility is the new term used to refer to the authority to make major decisions about a child's life. Custody or joint custody are the terms that were used in the past to refer to this authority. Your agreement or court order may use the term custody. This does not affect the validity of the agreement or order.

What is the difference between access and parenting time?

Both access and parenting time refer to time that a parent spends with their child. The term parenting time is the new term that is now being used. Your agreement or court order may use the term access. This does not affect the validity of the agreement or order.

We are making a parenting plan. What terms should we use?

There may be several terms that can be used to describe your situation but if you are making a parenting plan you should use the terms that are currently being used: decision-making responsibility and parenting time. No matter what term you use, it is very important to clearly describe how decisions will be made and when the child will be with each parent.

Can one parent decide to move the child to a different city, province or country?

If there is no agreement or order in place, parents who have lived together since the birth of their child have equal rights and responsibilities, meaning that one parent cannot just make unilateral decisions affecting the child. Either parent may wish to consider a court application for a parenting order to address this issue if they cannot reach an agreement. If there is a parenting order in place there are rules about moves that are considered relocations and notice requirements for any move.

My child does not want to visit their other parent. What should I do?

It is important to understand that a parent is expected to facilitate access to the other parent and not simply refuse to provide it because the child is reluctant or refusing to spend time with the other parent, unless there are concerns about family violence. There may be many reasons why a child does not want to spend time with the other parent. The matter may be quite complex and no one approach will work for every situation. Counselling to work out why the child does not want to visit can be helpful and may involve the whole family. Sometimes the parents and the children can negotiate changes to the schedule to ease the situation. In some cases it can also help if you treat this like any other thing you expect your children to do, such as going to school and doing chores, and give them the message that this time is important for both the parent and the child.

When can my children decide where they want to live?

Children do not have the right to decide this until they are 18. If a court is asked to decide where a child should live they will consider the child’s wishes.

The other parent is turning my children against me. What can I do?

This is a serious issue that can be very difficult to address. Sometimes it can be avoided if both parents are aware of the devastating effect this has on the children. Expectations for how parents will talk about and to each other might be set out in an agreement or even a court order. If this is happening it is important to seek professional help if at all possible. In very extreme cases changes may need to be made to the parenting arrangement.