Barrie Lawyers for Decision-Making
& Parenting Time

Comprehensive Legal Support for Decision-Making Responsibility and Parenting Time Matters

At Chapman Steffler LLP, we understand that navigating disputes regarding parenting arrangements (i.e. “custody” and “access”) can be complex and emotionally challenging. Our experienced family law team in Barrie, Ontario is available to offer you the necessary guidance and assistance in making well-informed decisions that prioritize the best interests of your children.

Common Types of Parenting Arrangements

Under the umbrella of decision-making and parenting time, there are several types of arrangements that can be established to ensure the well-being and upbringing of your children.

Decision-making Arrangements

1.Sole Decision-Making Responsibility

If your separation agreement or a court order grants you sole decision-making responsibility, you have the exclusive right to make important decisions about your children’s care, education, religious upbringing, and general welfare, unless otherwise specified in the agreement or order. 

2. Joint Decision-Making Responsibility

Parents who share joint decision-making responsibility both have a say in making important decisions regarding their children’s well-being. This arrangement requires cooperation and communication between parents, even if they are no longer together. By working together, parents can remain actively involved in the decision-making process and ensure that their children’s needs are met.

3.Parallel Parenting

In some cases, decision-making responsibility may be split between the parents in what is known as a “parallel parenting” arrangement. For example, one parent may be responsible for decisions relating to the child’s education, while the other is responsible for all major medical decisions.

Parenting Time Arrangements

1. Shared Parenting Time

Shared parenting time occurs when a child lives with each parent for at least 40% of the time over the course of a year. This arrangement recognizes the importance of both parents’ involvement in the child’s life and is taken into consideration under the Child Support Guidelines.

2. Split Parenting Time

Split parenting time refers to the situation where parties have more than one child, and each parent has one or more children living with them for the majority of the time. Split parenting time acknowledges the unique needs and dynamics within families with multiple children.

3. Supervised Parenting Time

When safety concerns exist during visits or exchanges between parents, supervised parenting time may be necessary. This arrangement involves the presence of a neutral third party, such as a friend, relative, or trained professional, to supervise the visitation. In some cases, supervised parenting time can take place in a supervised access centre to ensure the safety and well-being of the child

Experienced Barrie Lawyers for Decision-making & Parenting Time Arrangements

At Chapman Steffler LLP, our experienced family law team will work closely with you to assess your situation, understand your goals, and guide you through the legal process. We prioritize the best interests of your children and strive to help you reach a fair and sustainable arrangement that ensures their well-being.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward resolving your decision-making and parenting time matters with professionalism, compassion, and expertise.


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Decision-making responsibility (previously referred to as “custody”) refers to who will make major decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, particularly decisions relating to education, medical care, and religious/cultural activities.

A key consideration in determining whether decision-making responsibility will be shared or will lie with one parent is whether the parents are able to communicate well enough to make decisions together.

“Parenting time” refers to the parenting schedule – that is, the time that the child is to spend with each parent. Often, parents establish both a regular parenting schedule that applies throughout most of the year, and a holiday schedule to ensure that the child is able to spend holiday time with each parent. Where there are concerns about a parent’s ability to provide appropriate care for a child, or about the child’s level of comfort with a parent, parenting time may be supervised.

The guiding principle when it comes to both decision-making responsibility and parenting time is that these issues are to be determined in accordance with the best interests of the child. There are many factors that must be considered in determining what is in the child’s best interests, including:

  • The bond and emotional ties between the child and the parent, other members of the family who reside with the child, and other persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing;
  • Whether there has been any violence or abuse;
  • The child’s views and preferences, if they can be reasonably ascertained;
  • The length of time that the child has lived in a stable home environment;
  • The plan proposed by each person for the child’s care and upbringing; and
  • The permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live.

Parenting issues can be highly emotional and may involve complex legal issues. Being able to seek assistance from a lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations and the legal principles involved, and can help to reduce the stress of dealing with these difficult issues.

The process for resolving parenting issues varies greatly from case to case, depending on the issues in dispute, the circumstances of the family, and the positions and personalities of the parents. Where there is a reasonable level of communication and cooperation between parties, parenting issues may be resolved through negotiation and/or mediation. In higher conflict cases, resolving parenting disputes may require input from the court.

Yes, parenting arrangements often need to be modified as children get older and family circumstances change. For matters outside of court, this can be done through an amending agreement varying the terms of the existing separation agreement or parenting agreement.

For court matters, parties can seek to vary existing parenting arrangements through a motion to change. The lawyers at Chapman Steffler LLP can assist with modifying parenting arrangements, both in and out of court.