Why We Are Ditching the Term “Custody”– Parental Responsibilities in BC

No more “custody”?
2019 brings a change to family laws in Canada, specifically regarding parental responsibilities in the Divorce Act. The goal of this change is to improve the act so that it promotes the best interests of the child. 

One of these changes includes removing the term “custody” while introducing the concepts of “parenting time” and “decision-making responsibility”.

What does this mean? Essentially, the intention is to encourage parents to focus more on the needs of their children. By removing this term, we eliminate a winner-loser mentality (where the “winner” gets custody of the child). We also remove the negative association that “custody” commonly has with the idea of police detention.

What exactly is “parenting time”?
In the place of “custody”, we now have “parenting time”. Parenting time is defined as the time that a child spends with each guardian (determined by an agreement or order).

During this time, the guardian needs to exercise parental responsibility. See below to find out what parental responsibilities includes under the law.

What are your legal responsibilities as a parent?
Some examples of parental responsibilities under the BC Family Law Act:

  1. Making daily decisions for your child (making sure they are supervised and cared for)
  2. Making major decisions for your child (i.e., health care, school, extracurricular activities, religion, language)
  3. Deciding where your child will live (and with whom)
  4. Applying for passports, licences, etc. for your child
  5. Exercising any other responsibilities necessary to nurture your child’s development

When you separate with your spouse, you can share or divide your parental responsibilities in any way that would work best for your child.

If you or your spouse fails to exercise your parental responsibilities, the other person could potentially apply to court to get an agreement enforced or an original order changed.

If you cannot settle on an agreement regarding parenting time or have concerns about parental responsibilities, consult Vancouver & Burnaby Family Law and Custody, Access, Parenting Time lawyer/attorney Andrew Rebane at Resolutions Law Corporation, Burnaby, British Columbia andrew@resolutionslawcorp.com or 778-372-7107