Parenting Time (Access)

Vaughan Parenting Time and Access Lawyers

Parenting time, previously referred to as access, refers to the time each parent spends with their children after a separation or divorce. It can be referred to as the children’s residential schedule. The division of parenting time may be determined by a court order if the parents choose to litigate this issue, or it can be set out in a separation agreement after coming to a mutually acceptable arrangement through mediation, negotiation, or collaborative family law.

Parenting time arrangements can differ significantly from family to family. Depending on the family’s circumstances, the children may reside with one parent nearly full-time, while they visit the other parent on alternating weekends, over summer breaks and holidays. Many families are able to share access nearly equally, with children spending at least 40% of their time in each household. In some cases, it may be determined that the children should only have supervised visits with one parent, if there is a concern regarding the child’s safety or wellbeing.

Parenting time arrangements can significantly impact relationships between parents and children. To ensure access rights are protected and parenting time is fairly allocated, legal representation by experienced counsel is strongly recommended. Once an agreement or order for parenting time is in place, it can be difficult to alter or vary, so it is important to retain a lawyer as early on in the divorce process as possible.

At Bortolussi Family Law, our family lawyers have over 120 years of collective experience representing clients in parenting time disputes. We strive to reduce your stress by providing clarity on your rights, and by advocating to secure those rights in any family dispute resolution process. Our goal is to ensure your children’s best interests are protected above all else. This includes allowing them to maximize their time with each parent whenever possible under the circumstances.

We make it a priority to limit or reduce conflict whenever possible in matters involving children, especially, because we understand that the relationship between the parents does not end once the divorce or separation is final. We know you will need to remain in contact, often working together to parent your children for several years after the separation.

Parenting Time Arrangments

There are three types of parenting time arrangements that are most common, each of which will have an impact on child support obligations.

Shared Parenting Time

In a shared parenting time arrangement, parenting time is divided between the parents such that the children spend at least 40% of their time with each parent. In shared parenting arrangements, parenting time and the resulting parenting expenses are typically similar for both parents. As a result, child support payments in shared parenting arrangements can be less than amounts listed in the Child Support Guidelines table amounts, which take into consideration each parent’s income and the number of children involved. When parenting is not shared, the parent with less parenting time will generally pay support to the other parent based on the table amount in the Guidelines. In a shared parenting arrangement, however, each parent’s support obligation will generally be calculated as though they were the primary caregiver, and the parent with the higher obligation will effectively pay the difference to the other parent. That is the starting point and the set-off amount can be further adjusted based on many other factors.

It is important not to treat the payments as a set off. Each parent should make their full monthly child support payment to the other in order to take advantage of tax benefits and credits available. CRA changes eligibility frequently but it is important for you to ensure that the wording of your separation agreement or court order adequately covers what and how you actually pay support so that these benefits are maximized.

Primary Parenting Arrangement

In a primary parenting time arrangement, the child resides with one parent 60% or more of the time. In many cases, the other parent will also have parenting time with (access to) the child, but access time may vary depending on a number of factors and may be unsupervised or supervised. Access will generally be unsupervised unless there is a concern with respect to the child’s wellbeing or safety. When a child spends the bulk of their time with one parent, the other parent will generally be obligated to pay the full table amount of child support in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines.

Split Parenting Time

In a split parenting arrangement, the primary care of children is split, meaning for example, a family with two children may have one child live primarily with the mother, while the other child lives primarily with the father. Since each parent is the primary caregiver for one child, the table amount of child support for the child in their primary care will be calculated based on the gross annual income of the other parent.

Each parent will pay the table amount of child support for the number of children in the primary care of or shared care with the other parent. In split parenting, as in shared parenting, it is important not to treat the payments as a set off. Each parent should make their full monthly child support payment to the other in order to take advantage of tax benefits and credits available. The Canada Revenue Agency changes eligibility requirements frequently but it is important for you to ensure that the wording of your separation agreement or court order adequately covers what and how you actually pay support so that these benefits are maximized.

Parenting Time Determined in Accordance With the Best Interests of the Child

The best interests of the child determine the decision-making authority for each parent and the parenting time arrangements. In accordance with the Divorce Act, some of the factors to examine when deciding on a child’s best interests include:

  • The nature of the child’s relationship with each parent, as well as other family members such as siblings and grandparents;
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to work with the other parent to support their child’s development;
  • The history of the child’s care prior to the divorce or separation;
  • The child’s own preferences, which are given weight in accordance with the child’s age and maturity level;
  • The child’s cultural, spiritual, and religious upbringing;
  • Each parent’s plans for the child’s care;
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to meet their child’s caregiving needs;
  • Any history of family violence, including emotional and physical violence; and
  • Any other factor relevant to the child’s safety, security, or wellbeing.

Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Bortolussi Family Law in Vaughan for Parenting Time and Access Disputes

At Bortolussi Family Law, our divorce lawyers have over 120 years of combined experience helping clients to navigate parental disputes, including parenting time and access issues. We work to find the best solution for each client’s family to help them move forward productively post-separation, with their children(s)’ best interests in mind. From our office in Woodbridge, we assist clients from across the Greater Toronto Area, extending out to Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Woodbridge, Maple, Kleinburg, Concord, Vaughan, Bolton, Nobleton, Markham, and Etobicoke and all areas in between, with all aspects of their separation and divorce process.

To discuss your circumstances and learn about the options available to you, please reach out to us online or by phone at 416-987-3300.

“I was referred to Bortolussi Family Law based on their experience and value. My lawyer was honest, in touch with reality without wasting time or money but also very professional and understanding. 5/5.” L.R.

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