Our specialties > Access – Parenting Time
Access is now known as “parenting time” under the new Divorce Act changes of March 2021. “Parenting time” promotes the concept that the parent who lives outside the children’s home is not just a visiting “fun time” parent: that parent often continues to play a critical role in their children’s lives long after separation or divorce.
In any family dynamic, children are the priority. Their physical needs are important. So is their emotional well-being. Their relationship with each of their parents nurtures bonds that are critical to that child’s positive social and emotional development.
This is why in Ontario, the courts do their best to ensure that the parent-child relationship remains even after the relationship between parents has broken down. This maybe true even if there are safety concerns for the children. Your children’s safety requires thinking about the potential abuse they may be exposed to and also considers whether the parenting time is conducive to the child’s positive development.
Access or parenting time is your children’s right to have time to bond with the parent who lives outside their home. This can be one of the most challenging areas of family life after a separation or divorce. Depending on the reasons for the separation, many complications may arise.
handling difficult situations
Parents sometimes use their children to make demands of, or to control their ex-partners, creating high tension that often negatively affects the children. Where abuse is present or possible, a parent may seek specific directions in the order for parenting time to enhance their own and the children’s safety.
Sterling Law is experienced in mediating, negotiating and litigating the how, when and where of access that frustrates so many parents. We are here to advocate for your rights and the rights of your children that enable them to thrive emotionally and physically while giving you a sense of security in knowing that you have the support of the legal system.
“Decision-making responsibility” refers to a parent’s authority to make decisions about the child such as educational decisions, non-emergency medical decisions, religious decisions, and extracurricular activity decisions. The non-decision-making parent does not have the right to make or be involved in making choices affecting the child’s welfare and development, even if they have parenting time with the child. If an emergency arises or when the decision-making parent is unavailable, a non-decision-making parent may exercise some restricted decision-making authority.
“Parenting time” has replaced the word “access”; think visiting with the child as distinct from making decisions concerning the child. “Parenting time” refers to a child’s right to visit with or be visited by their parents. Recall that the test is “in the best interests of the child.” Parents often confuse this concept thinking and saying, to the annoyance of many judges, that it is their right to see their child. This is inaccurate: the right belongs to the child to see, know and bond with their non-residential parent so as to develop a balanced relationship with both parents.
Parenting time also includes the parent’s right to inquire about and receive information about the child’s health, education, and welfare from the parent with decision making responsibility or from the children’s third-party caregivers and supporters.