The Family Law Act describes the time spent with children as parenting time and contact.
The time that a guardian spends with the child is called parenting time. During parenting time, the guardian is responsible for caring for the child and for day-to-day decision making. In some cases, there may be conditions on parenting time, such as having someone else supervise the guardian’s parenting time with the child.
In the Family Law Act, the term parenting arrangements means the arrangements between guardians for sharing parental responsibilities and parenting time. The arrangement can be recorded in either an agreement or a court order. Under the new Family Law Act, parenting time or parental responsibilities do not have to be equally shared between guardians.
Contact refers to the time that a person who is not a guardian spends with a child. A parent who is not the child’s guardian might have contact. People who are not guardians don’t have parental responsibilities, so they can’t make major decisions about the child’s life, even during contact. Contact can be agreed to by all guardians and the person with contact, or may be granted in court. In some cases, there may be conditions on contact, such as having someone else supervise visits with the child.
All decisions about parenting arrangements and contact in court orders or agreements must be based on the child’s best interests. This includes:
- what the child wants and needs
- who cared for the child in the past
- whether there is a history of family violence
- what the parents are capable of.
Our thanks to JP Boyd for providing the background for this series. You can find more information on the new Family Law Act, as well as other family law issues, at his BC Family Law Resource Blog.