Not Everyone is Entitled to Equal Parenting Time

Equal parenting time

BC family lawyers and parents are recently reminded that there is no presumption of equality in parenting time.

In BCB v. RWB 2014 BCSC 622 released yesterday, Master Baker reminds us that the best interests of the child is the most important consideration in determining parenting time. Further, he states that which parent is ostensibly “right” or “wrong” has no place in determining parenting time especially on an interim application.

He says this:

[8] To attempt to decide who is right or wrong in his or her perspective on this is, as they say, a mug’s game. It seems to me that, while a judge in trial may need to explore this in detail, it does not assist for me, in an interim application such as this, to assess blame or cause; it is neither necessary nor is it helpful. Indeed, it may simply add fuel to an unfortunate fire.

[9] I say that because I frequently point out to parents that complete equality in parenting time or specific precision in apportioning that time seldom serves the children’s best interest. In other words, not all time is equal in value or utility. Every parent knows that some parenting time is drudge work and some is (a word I try to avoid) quality time. Too many parents, in my respectful view, assume that parenting time is analogous to asset division, i.e. that the presumption is 50/50. Children and their time are not assets and the default parenting time is not necessarily strict equality.

In fact, section 40(4) of the Family Law Act specifically states:

(4) In the making of parenting arrangements, no particular arrangement is presumed to be in the best interests of the child and without limiting that, the following must not be presumed:

(a) that parental responsibilities should be allocated equally among guardians;

(b) that parenting time should be shared equally among guardians;

(c) that decisions among guardians should be made separately or together.

Almost any time people interact with the BC family lawyers they are going through a difficult time in their lives. This is not made any easier when the emotions in relationship breakdown are involved. Parents need to keep in mind that any stress they are feeling is likely also felt by their children. The best interests of the child rarely includes keeping them from a parent or straining a familial relationship in any way. The bests interests of the child require parents to ensure their children are healthy and happy. This means keeping their stress levels low and their familial relationships healthy.

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