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Parenting must be addressed in family law cases involving children when you decide to separate from your spouse. You need to work out such things as guardianship, parenting responsibilities, parenting time and child support with the other parent.

1. Guardianship

Biological parents are generally considered guardians of their children. In some cases, a person may apply to be a guardian of the child and this will generally require a Court Order.

2. Parenting Responsibilities

You will want to clarify who can make daily and significant decisions about the child’s care and upbringing. These are frequently shared by the parents who must communicate effectively to best support their child. Responsibilities often include parents putting the best interests of the child before their own, as well as specifying how they will communicate with one another, make decisions about the child’s health, education, religion and culture, apply for documents such as the child’s passport, and resolve issues when they disagree.

3. Parenting Time

The relationships between children and each of their parents needs to be nurtured during and after the family transition arising from the parents’ spousal relationship ending. Many parents arrange to spend roughly equal time with their children, but in other cases it may be in the best interests of the children to reside primarily with one parent with the children spending some time with the other parent. Parenting time is the right of the children, rather than their parents’ right. An example that emphasizes this point is where the Court ordered a parent to pay $2 to the child for every half hour the parent was late for his time with the child (S.M.M. v. J.P.H., 2015 BCSC 1666 (CanLII)).

4. Child Support and Expenses

You will also need to address financial issues involving your children, including payment of monthly child support and contributions to the children’s special or extraordinary expenses. Child support is the child’s and cannot be waived by parents. It is determined based on the parents’ incomes and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. A helpful online tool to determine how much support to pay is www.mysupportcalculator.ca.

Ideally, you and the other parent will make a parenting plan that addresses these types of issues and is flexible enough to evolve as your children grow and develop. If you can not work out a parenting plan together or with the help of your lawyers or a divorce coach then a private Arbitrator or the Court will make an order in the best interests of the children.

And, throughout the process of resolving parenting issues there are ways to support your children.