Parenting Arrangements after Divorce

AuthorJulien D. Payne/Marilyn A. Payne
Chapt er 10
Parenting Arrangements After
Note: Cha pter 10 of Canadian Family Law, 8e, provides a detailed descript ion of these
legislative changes relat ing to parenting disputes, an d the authors venture their opinion
concerning the ongoing impact of judic ial rulings under the former statutor y regime. Addi-
tional changes, prima rily of a jurisdictional nat ure, are also included in the amending legis-
lation. ose juri sdictional changes that are scheduled to come into force on 1 March 2021
are examined in Chapter 7 of Canadian Family Law, 8e. Because Chapter 10 of Canadian
Famil y Law, 8e, is conned to discussing leg islative changes that will not come into force
until 1 March 2021, Irwin L aw will provide electronic a ccess to Chapter 10 of Canadian
Famil y Law, 7e, which denes the go verning legal criteri a until 1 March 2021. Although
courts cannot give eec t to the aforementioned legislative changes with respe ct to parent-
ing and contact orders before 1 March 2021, law yers and mediators who are engaged in
assisting divorcing or divorced par ties to resolve parenting disputes are not subject to the
same rigid const raint and they may look to the amending legislation for insights into th e
drafting of appropria te settlements. And because the jurisdict ional analysis in Chapter 7
of Canadian Family Law, 8e, will also be inoperative before 1 March 2021, Ir win Law will
provide electronic access to the relevant pa ges (179–191) in Chapter 7 of Canadian Family
Law, 7e, which dene the governing juri sdictional criteria unt il 1March 2021.
First and foremost, section 16(1) of the Divorce Act e xpressly provides th at
“[t]he court shall take into considerat ion only the best interests of the child of
the marri age in making a parenting order or a contact order.”2
1 e authors wish to e xpress their th anks to Cla ire Farid and Mart ha Butler of the feder al
departme nt of justice for providi ng useful insi ghts on the recent legis lative changes
incorporated i n this chapter. ey a lso thank Anu shua Nag, Parlia mentary Resea rch
Assista nt at the Senate of Canad a.
2 See below, Section H.
Chapter 10: Parenting Arrangements After Divorce 549
Fundamental leg islative changes have been implemented with respec t
to parenting disputes that arise betwe en divorcing and divorced parents.3
Many of these changes reect pre-exi sting provincial legislative provisions
in Albert a, British Columbia, or Nova Scotia. e cha nges include:
i) replacing the trad itional term inology of “custody” and “access” orders
with the terminology of “parenting orders,” which focu s on parenting
time and decision-m aking authorit y, and contact orders with respect to
third pa rties;
ii) establishing a non- exhaustive list of criteri a to assist courts in determin-
ing the “best i nterests of the child”;
iii) calling upon prospective litiga nts and their law yers to address the feas-
ibility of using out-of- court family dispute resolution serv ices;
iv) introducing measures to a ssist courts in addressing fami ly violence; and
v) establ ishing a framework for situations where one of the parents w ishes
to relocate a child of the m arriage.
Speaking to the i ssue of family violence during t he second reading of Bill
C-78, now SC 2019, c 16,4 which implemented the recent legislative c hanges,
the Minister of Justice st ated:
Bill C-78 include s three amendments to add ress family viole nce in the Divorce
Act and one in the Family Orders and Ag reements Enforcement Assistance Ac t.5
At the outset of the following a nalysis, it is vital to identi fy the following
denitions under sect ion 2(1) of the current Divorce Ac t:
“Contact order” me ans an order made under subsect ion 16.5(1).6
A “contact order” species the time that children will spend with non-par-
ental importa nt individuals in their lives, s uch as grandparents.
“Decision-m aking resp onsibility ” means t he responsibil ity for maki ng
signica nt decisions about a c hild’s well -being, inc luding in respe ct of
(a)health; (b) education; (c) cultu re, language, rel igion and spiritu ality; and
(d)signicant e xtra-curr icular activit ies.
3 Se e Nicholas Bala, “ Bill C-78: e 2020 Refor ms to the Parenting Pro visions of Canad a’s
Divorce Act” 39 CFLQ 4 7–76.
4 B ill C-78 (now SC 2019 c 16) received Roy al assent on 21 June 2019. Most of it s diverse
provisions c ame into eect on 1 July 2020, se e “e Divorce Act Changes E xplained ”
online: Dept of Ju stice, Canada w-df/c-mdf/dace-clde/index.html.
5 As t o the intersection of cr iminal law a nd family law in ca ses involving fam ily violence,
see R v SSM, 2018 ONSC 4 465
6 As to the i nclusion of an interi m order, see Divorce Act, s 16(7).
Canadi an family law550
e word “including” signies th at the specied li st is not comprehensive.
When deciding the issue of the na l decision maker, a court must apply the
best interests of the child .7
“Family di spute resolution process” means a process outside of cou rt that is
used by part ies to a family law dispute to at tempt to resolve any matters in
dispute, includ ing negotiation, mediation a nd collaborative law.
e term is used in the context of parenting orders and the statutory dut-
ies of the parties and t heir legal advisers. Here again, the word “ including”
signies th at the specied li st is not comprehensive so it would include, for
example, parenting co -ordination, med-arb, and arbitration.8
“Family just ice services ” means public or pri vate service s intended to help
persons deal w ith issues arising f rom separation or divorce.
ese would include parenta l education, counselling, and med iation services.
“Family member ” includes a member of the household of a chi ld of the mar-
riage or of a spouse or for mer spouse as well as a d ating partner of a spou se
or former spouse who pa rticipates in the activ ities of the household.
is denition is of particular relevance in the contex t of family violence.
To determine the best interests of a child, a court must consider violence
involving the people who are in the child ’s family or in a family-like rela-
tionship with the c hild. is includes people in the chi ld’s household, in the
household of one of the spouses and dati ng partners who par ticipate in the
activities of the house hold.
“Family viole nce” means any conduct, w hether or not the conduct const i-
tutes a crim inal oence, by a family me mber towards another fami ly mem-
ber, that is violent or th reatening or that constitutes a patter n of coercive
and controlling b ehaviour or th at causes that ot her family membe r to
fear for their own s afety or for that of a nother person — and in the case
of a child, the d irect or indirect exposu re to such conduct — and inc ludes
(a) physical a buse, includi ng forced connement but exc luding the use
of reasonable force to protect t hemselves or another pe rson; (b) sex ual
abuse; (c)t hreats to ki ll or cause bodi ly harm to a ny person; (d) harass-
ment, including st alki ng; (e)the fai lure to provide the neces saries of li fe;
(f)ps ychologica l abuse; (g )na ncial abus e; (h)t hreats to kil l or harm an
7 See Nurse v Holden, 2019 NSSC 358 at paras 89 –92.
8 See Chapte r 6.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT