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Posts tagged ‘parenting time’

Parenting Coordinators Are Still a Good Idea … But the Court Declines to Force It

 

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Parenting Coordinators Are Still a Good Idea … But the Court Declines to Force It

A few weeks ago, I talked about Parenting Coordinators, and their increasingly important role in Ontario family law. Couples in dispute on certain minor issues relating to parenting time, access schedules, the management of a child’s health care, religious and educational instruction, and general communication between parents, can be referred by a court to a Parenting Coordinator who can assist with the resolution.

However, the recent Ontario case called Varcoe v. Varcoe shows that courts can only go so far in forcing or even encouraging parents to avail themselves of this valuable dispute-resolution resource.

In that case, the parents had been to court to try to determine their various issues relating to custody of and access to their children. However, they went back to court because resulting court order neglected to address one of the items that the mother requested – specifically that the father should be forced to sign a Parenting Coordination Agreement submitted by the proposed Coordinator. The use of a Coordinator was one of the items the parents had agreed to in their Minutes of Settlement; however in making its subsequent order based on those Minutes, the court had incorrectly assumed the issue was abandoned.

The mother indicated that she had already provided the necessary “paperwork” to the proposed Parenting Coordinator as required, but the father had not done so. She therefore asked the court to order the father to do so within five days.

The court declined to order the father to submit his paperwork and sign. The court explained that the material the mother had filed with the court was deficient; most notably she had neglected to file the Parenting Coordination Agreement itself and did not state how long the father had been in default of his negotiated obligation to sign it. There was also nothing to suggest that there was some immediate crisis concerning the children that mandated the intervention by the chosen parenting coordinator.

Instead, the court pointed out that if the father was refusing to sign the Parenting Coordination Agreement then this amounted to a straightforward breach of a prior court order, for which the mother had other established procedural remedies at her disposal, including bring a motion to strike the father’s pleadings entirely. The court would not force the father’s hand in this case.

For the full-text of the decision, see:

Varcoe v. Varcoe, 2014 ONSC 328 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/g2qpw

See also related decision:

Varcoe v. Varcoe, 2014 ONSC 1162 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/g3rnl

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

New Family Law Act in B.C. – An Updated Law for a Modern Society

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New Family Law Act in B.C. – An Updated Law for a Modern Society

On March 18, 2013, B.C. passed its new Family Law Act, which replaced the former Family Relations Act and made some sweeping changes to the law in that province, bringing it more in line with the governing legislation in Ontario, but adding some new elements as well.
Among the more important changes:

• In certain contexts – including spousal support entitlement – the term “spouse” has been expanded to include people who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together (this is now in-line with the Ontario definition).

• The new Act now applies to both married and certain unmarried couples in connection with particular family law topics including division of property or debt.

• Unlike Ontario (where analogous provisions do not exist), the B.C. legislation specifically addresses situations where a parent wants to relocate with a child in a way that will interfere with another person’s ability to maintain his or her relationship with that child. Under the new Act, the parent must now give 60 days’ notice of an intended move in certain circumstances.

• There are new provisions to promote co-operation and dispute resolution between spouses.

The new Act also adds clarity and precision to certain terms: for example the concept of “excluded property” has been expanded to incorporate certain specific items. Likewise, the term “best interests of the child”, which is a test used in connection with determining matters such as which parent should have custody, now specifically incorporates elements such as the child’s emotional health and well-being, and consideration of his or views if appropriate.

Finally, certain language used in B.C. family legislation have been clarified and updated, and reference to the terms “custody” and ”access” are no longer used (however, they are still used in the federal Divorce Act). Instead, they have been

replaced by the more inclusive terms “guardianship”, “parenting arrangements”, “parental responsibilities”, “parenting time” and “contact”. This reflects the goal of modernizing the legislation to make it more reflective of the many different living arrangements and family relationships that exist in our Canadian society.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at Russell Alexander.com