Following a separation, a Parenting Order is a legal mechanism used to break a deadlock when parents cannot agree on an appropriate parenting arrangement for their children. In this week’s blog, we’re going to examine the basics of a tool we’d consider the last resort for parents who cannot, or will not, come together for a mutually beneficial decision.
Whenever we talk about the children of a separation, we return to a phrase you’ve likely heard us use time and again – “the best interests of the child.” When a couple separates, they typically remain the people best placed to decide on what constitutes the best interests of the child in question according to the federal Divorce Act and the BC Family Law Act. Unfortunately, during acrimonious separations, they often can’t come together to make a decision.
In our first paragraph, we referred to a Parenting Order as something we’d consider a ‘last resort’ for disagreements. Before you turn to this option, here are several others to consider:
- Try to reach an agreement with the former spouse on a parenting schedule that works for everyone
- Enlist the help of a trusted friend or counsellor to resolve the issue
- Seek professional help from a Mediator, Family Justice Counsellor or Parenting Coordinator
- Turn to a family lawyer and begin the Parenting Order process
The Two Types of Parenting Orders
After all other avenues have been explored, a family lawyer can assist in securing a Parenting Order. This legal document comes in two varieties – an Interim Parenting Order, and a Final Parenting Order. Let’s take a look at what these terms mean:
Interim Parenting Order
Upon the commencement of a court action, a parent may make a temporary application to the court for “interim parenting time” while the sometimes-lengthy process unfolds. This temporary measure exists as a stop-gap to ensure visitation rights are protected while the legal process unfolds. Interim Parenting Orders are subject to change.
Final Parenting Order
A Final Parenting Order represents the final decision of the court upon review of all the relevant evidence. It typically concludes the process and can only be changed if there is a “material change in circumstances” between the two parties. An example of this is if a parent can no longer fulfill their obligations regarding parenting time.
How to Obtain a Parenting Order
The process begins by enlisting the services of a family law expert. The team here at Westside Family Law have years of experience in these kinds of cases, and we’ll be happy to meet and discuss your unique situation.
Your lawyer will make a court application for orders about parenting time. Unfortunately, the wait for these cases can be lengthy, and it can easily take over a year from the beginning of the process to the date of the trial.