A 2013 study with implications for parents in British Columbia and across Canada found that children of divorced parents have the best outcome when they can spend equal time with both parents. The study shows that shared parenting usually works to minimize abuse and contention between parents even when the parents disagree. A parent who has minimal time with a child generally seems to have reduced input into a child’s life. Even a Supreme Court judge referred to the parent with less time as an ‘interested bystander.”
Even when the courts order shared parenting, one parent will usually spend minimal time with a child. A parent who does not have equal access to the child could struggle to obtain even simple information, such as what is happening with the child’s education, address or health. The parent with primary custody could make decisions about the child without the second parent’s perspective. Parenting provisions might not always be administered properly.
Generally, courts enforce a standard visitation schedule that gives a non-custodial parent time with the child only four to six days per month. The child’s needs are usually not considered, and custody is often routinely ordered to one parent, usually the mother. One benefit to joint custody is that parents are free to work out better scheduling options, even if they are not equal parenting schedules. Some parents are backing a new bill in Parliament in order to encourage shared parenting practices.
When a marriage between parents ends, what to do about child custody and parenting time can be one of the most challenging issues to resolve. A family lawyer might be able to work out a schedule that favors a fair distribution of custody time so that both parents can have an adequate amount of time with their child.
Source: The Toronto Star, “Bill favoring ‘equal time’ for parents in divorce deserves support“, Glenn Cheriton, March 19, 2014
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