Child Custody
Child Custody

Over the years, much has been learned about the effects of divorce and conflict on children and families. The Federal and the Provincial courts have moved towards encouraging alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration to resolve family law matters, rather than jumping straight to the courtroom for litigation.  In many cases, litigation should be a last resort once all other forms of dispute resolution have been exhausted. 

In order to focus on the best interests of the child rather than conflict, in 2019 the Divorce Act was amended to use terms that emphasize relationships with children, instead of seeing children as the centre of a dispute. “Parenting time”, for instance, was formerly referred to as “access” and  decision-making responsibility now replaces the former term “custody”. The term “custody order” is now referred to as a “parenting order”. 

What Is Decision Making Responsibility?

Decision making responsibility now replaces the concept of child custody, and it refers to the parental responsibility for making the important decisions regarding the children’s well-being. These decisions include healthcare, education, religion and certain extra curricular activities. Extra curricular activities included here are likely ones that have a significant impact on the child’s daily life.  

Types of Decision Making Responsibility

Child Custody in Ontario

In Ontario, there are two types of decision making responsibilities; Joint decision making and sole decision making. 

As the name suggests, in a joint decision making situation, both parents make the decisions pertaining to their children’s well being. In this type of arrangement, there should be an alternative dispute resolution plan in the event that the parents disagree.  For example, if both parents cannot agree on certain medical decisions, they should have a clause in their agreement which outlines dispute resolution. This could for example, include mediation or arbitration. 

In some situations where parents cannot agree, parallel decision making responsibilities are granted. In this type of scenario, one parent is solely responsible for certain decisions (health and religion for example) while the other parent is solely responsible for other decisions (education and extracurricular activities for example). Where sole decision making responsibilities are granted, then one parent makes all decisions. 

Hummingbird Lawyers LLP Can Help

When it comes to the best interests of your children, you as the parent know best. If you’re in a family law dispute, it is always best to consult with a family lawyer to understand your rights and obligations and to best understand so that you can make the best decision for your family. At Hummingbird Lawyers LLP, we understand that divorce is a very difficult and overwhelming time. We’re here to help you every step of the way. Contact us to see how we can help.

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