Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Divorce, Separation and Mediation
Custody FAQs - Can't Find the Answers ?
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Q: What is the difference between custody and parenting?
In the past, we have used the terms “custody” and “access” to set out how separated parents will make decisions about their children and share time with their children. The new Divorce Act that became effective on March 1, 2021 and the Alberta Family Law Act have changed the term “access” to “parenting time” which means the time a spouse spends with a child. A spouse with parenting time has the right to make day-to-day decisions (including emergency decisions) about a child during their time with the child. They also have the right to ask for and get information about their children’s health, education and well-being.
The term “custody” has been changed to “decision making responsibility” to set out who has the authority to make decisions, involving the children’s health, education, language, and religion. These responsibilities can be shared between spouses or given to one spouse alone. A spouse with decision-making responsibility has the right to ask for and get information about their children’s health, education and well-being.
In a divorce case, if the children live primarily with one parent, the agreement or order will usually spell out the time that the children will be with the other parent and call that time “access”.
In other cases, if the spouses are dividing up the time with the child, that will be spelled out in the parenting agreement or order. The agreement or order will often say that one spouse will have parenting time on specific days and the other spouse will have parenting time the rest of the time.
If a person who is not a person other than a spouse applies to the court for an order allowing them to spend time with the child, that is called “contact”. A Contact Order gives the person only the right to spend time with the child, not to make any decisions about the child.
Q: What does guardianship mean?
Guardianship means all of the powers and responsibilities relating to the raising of a child. If the guardians can’t agree on how these powers and responsibilities will be shared between them, or how the time with the children will be shared, they can apply to the court for a Parenting Order or a Custody and Access Order.
Q: What is the difference between sole custody, joint custody, shared custody and split custody?
A parent with sole decision making makes all of the major decisions about the child, and the child will live primarily with that parent. They may consult with the other parent, but they make the final decision. The other parent usually has access, and can make day to day decisions during their parenting time.
When two parents have joint decision making responsibilities, they make all major decisions about the children together. Joint decision making responsibilities does not mean that the child spends equal time with each parent, although that sometimes happens. Other times, the child will live primarily with one parent and the other parent will have specified parenting time with the children.
Shared decision making responsibilities and parenting time is when the child lives, more or less, half time with each parent. The Federal Child Support Guidelines defines shared parenting time as the child living more than 40% of the time with each parent. In almost all cases, parents with shared parenting time will also have joint decision making responsibilities
Split parenting is when there are two or more children, and some of the children live primarily with one parent and the rest live primarily with the other parent. In most cases, parents with split parenting will also have joint decision making responsibilities.
As qualified paralegals, we are able to offer a range of additional paralegal services such as pre-nuptial, co-habitation and separation agreements, transfers of land… Learn more here
Parenting after Seperation
Parenting After Separation is a two hour on-line course or a six hour seminar offering information to guardians and parents about the separation and divorce process, the effects of separation and divorce on children… Learn more here
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: At WIN/WIN Divorce Resolution we will provide you with information but we do not offer legal advice. Should you require legal advice, you should consult with a lawyer specializing in family law. If you do not have a lawyer, we can refer you to a lawyer to obtain legal advice.