When parents separate, legal arrangements need to be made about when and how the children will spend time with each parent and about who has responsibility for making decisions about them.
Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act and the federal Divorce Act use the term PARENTING ORDER for the order that sets out the arrangements for the children. The time children spend with each parent is called PARENTING TIME. Parenting orders also set out the arrangements for DECISION-MAKING RESPONSIBILITIES.
Under both pieces of legislation, if there are concerns that either parent may not be able to care properly for the children’s the time they spend with that parent may be SUPERVISED or, if it is not safe for the mother to be with the father when the children are exchanged, there can be an order for SUPERVISED EXCHANGES.
Under both the Divorce Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act, all decisions related to the care of children are made using the BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD TEST. Both laws also include a broad definition of family violence to assist courts in determining what is in the best interests of the children.
When leaving with the children
Abusive men often use arrangements for the children as a way to try to maintain control over or intimidate their ex-partner. It is very important for a woman with children leaving a relationship in which she has been abused to move quickly to establish legal arrangements for them to prevent the abuser from claiming she has abducted them or from simply taking the children and refusing to let her see them.
This is especially true for women whose ex-partners may be in a position to remove the children from Canada. While the Hague Convention offers some protection against international abductions of children, it does not apply in many parts of the world and, even where it does apply, getting a child back from another country is a time-consuming, expensive and complicated process.