Access & Parenting Time
Making parenting time decisions during and after separation or divorce can be heart wrenching and difficult. It is hard to think of having to go days without having your children beside you. What could parenting during this new chapter in my life look like?
Many parents use the terms ‘custody’ and ‘access’ interchangeably, yet they have specific and very different meanings in law. Access or parenting refers to the time that you spend with your children. Custody or Decision-Making Authority refers to who can make big decisions (i.e. medical, school, religion, etc.) for the children. For more information on Custody or Decision-Making Authority, click here to read more.
For some parents, it is a question of parenting from morning to evening, or for extended periods. What test does the Court use to determine what parenting schedule is appropriate for your family? The Court looks at the best interests of the children. When determining the best interests of the children, some of the factors that the Court considers are:
Age of the children
Parenting arrangements prior to the Court application (did both parents equally parent? Was one parent working primarily away from the home for weeks at a time?)
Relationship that each parent has with the children
Relationship between the parents (can you cooperate or is that not a possibility right now?)
Specific health considerations/ physical handicaps of the child, and if either parent is more trained to support those concerns
Other more specific characteristics of each family
There are many ways that parenting time can be structured, as not every schedule works for every family. For many families, one parent ends up being the ‘primary’ parent with the other parenting in a less than equal amount of time. If you are the ‘primary’ parent that means that you have the children over 60% of the time over the course of the year.
It is also common to have what is referred to as shared parenting or a 50/50 parenting schedule. This can be scheduled many ways including, week-on week-off, 2 days/2 days/3 days. The shared parenting schedule does not mean that each parent has to have the children exactly 50% of the time. Shared parenting is when one parent has the children for 40% of the time or more and the other has them for 60% of the time or less. Another parenting arrangement is a split custody arrangement, where one child lives with one parent and another child lives with the other parent.
Most parents are concerned about the impact their separation may have on their children and the time they are able to spend with them. Crystal Robertson’s goal is to help you reach a parenting schedule that meets the needs of your children and is best suited for your family.