Child Guardianship & Parenting Time

It's easy to get bogged down in the legal jargon surrounding child custody. BC laws distinguish between custody, now termed "guardianship," and access, now called "parenting time."

  • Guardianship refers to parents or adults who have the authority to make decisions about the child's upbringing. This includes things like schooling, religion, values and parenting in general. Joint guardianship typically works well for parents who can communicate well, cooperate and support each other's parenting styles.
  • Parenting time refers to the amount of time children spend with each parent. This would include your weekly or monthly schedule during the school year as well as holiday time and summer vacations. As with guardianship, the Court often tries to establish equitable parenting time so children can maintain relationships with both parents.

The important thing to remember is that Westside Family Law is committed to placing your children in the best situation possible. Our lawyers seek to create parenting agreements that help your children continue to thrive. We'll explain the law to you, but also help you understand how it may be applied to your family's unique circumstances.

How Custody Decisions Get Made, Legally Speaking

Changes to British Columbia's Family Law Act in 2013 fundamentally changed the way decisions about guardianship and parenting time are made. The only measure the Court must now consider is whether the proposed agreement protects the child's best interests — that is, their physical, psychological and emotional safety, security and overall well-being.

This definition runs contrary to the popular belief that custody and access are "parental rights." In fact, determining what is in the best interest of the child involves the consideration of a number of variables, including:

  • An evaluation of each parent's role and relationship with the child
  • The proposed plan for the child's future care
  • Each parent's willingness to facilitate the child's relationship with the other parent

Moreover, protecting the children's best interests opens up the possibility of nonparental guardianship where appropriate. We handle these custody situations with care; thankfully, we have decades of family law litigation experience helping families resolve their legal disputes successfully.

Challenges To Establishing Equitable Parenting Time

The BC Family Law Act has a definition of family violence that includes emotional, financial and psychological abuse, in addition to physical abuse. Drug and/or alcohol addiction by one or both parents can significantly affect the outcome of a guardianship/parenting time case. If you are worried about the safety of your children, talk to us about your options for protective measures such as obtaining a restraining order, conducting medical/professional interventions, submitting expert reports to the Court to explore unique needs, or seeking sole guardianship or reduced parenting time.

Other challenges could make it difficult to establish equitable parenting time. For example, if one parent wishes to relocate or move away with the children, either transnationally or internationally, guardianship and parenting time could be disputed in Court. We are ready to help you with any custody and parenting access issues that may arise.

Protecting Your Relationships With Your Children

At Westside Family Law, we know that you and your spouse need to preserve your relationships with your children. We offer sound advice and step-by-step guidance throughout the litigation process to help you establish parenting solutions that fit your family's needs. Contact our office in Vancouver by calling 604-800-8853 to get started on your custody case.