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Child Parenting Decision Making Authority lawyers help separated parents come up with a plan for how parenting time, parenting responsibilities and guardianship rights are allocated between themselves and sometimes, other guardians. Today Lorne MacLean, QC and Fraser MacLean of our downtown Vancouver family law office explain the different options and factors a court looks at to share parenting decisions or to put one parent alone in charge. Our award-winning family lawyers* have been named Top Vancouver Family Law Firm 5 times in the last 6 years and the last 4 years straight and Lorne MacLean, QC has repeatedly won as one of the Three Best Divorce Lawyers in Vancouver, Surrey, and Richmond. We recently set records for interim and permanent child support and spousal support.

Child Parenting Decision Making Authority Lawyers

Our BC Family Law Act mandates both parents remain guardians at the end of a committed relationship subject to a rare case of a guardian being removed if it is not in the child’s best interest that they remain as a guardian.  However, there are several different child parenting decision making regimes the Court can order, or the parties can agree upon, after family separation. Call our child parenting decision making authority lawyers across BC and in Calgary Alberta to meet with us in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Kelowna, Fort St John, Calgary, and Winnipeg or call us toll-free at 1 877 602 9900.

Vancouver Child Guardianship Options 1 877 602 9900

Lorne MacLean, QC, founder of our team of Child parenting decision making authority lawyers, explains the following scenarios for child parenting responsibility and guardianship decisions:

  1. sole child parenting decision-making authority, where all child parenting decisions will be made by one parent/guardian who shall have all the parenting responsibilities who usually will need to advise the other parent of decisions and that parent will often be entitled to direct access to school and medical information;
  2. a  joint duty to discuss child parenting decisions and failing agreement one parent will have the final say, subject to the other guardian applying to court under section 49 of the FLA to set aside that decision as being contrary to a child’s best interest;
  3. shared child parenting responsibility on all decisions but if there is a child parenting responsibility and guardianship disagreement, it will be resolved by a parenting coordinator or a Judge;
  4. allocation of different sole child guardianship and decision making powers where they are allocated between parents so, for example, one parent might be in charge of education or extracurricular activities, while the other parent might be in charge of health and religion subject to each parent seeking to set aside the decision in court under section 49 of the FLA.
  5. Finally, in cases where parents have trouble communicating on child decision making responsibilities our Child Parenting Decision Making Authority lawyers strongly recommend listing agreed guardianship decisions such as selecting, a child’s doctor, dentist, school, activities, religious education so as to narrow down the issues that could lead to disputes in the future.

Child Parenting Decision Making Authority – Case Law

In the recent case of C.T.M v T.J.M, Mr. Justice Verhoeven reviewed the law on when guardians should share decision making and when one guardian needs to have sole decision making to reduce conflict and delays on key decisions for the child.

[85]         This factor seems designed to encourage cooperation in decision making affecting the child between the child’s guardians, where appropriate.  Clearly, in an appropriate case, cooperative decision-making would be desirable.  However, in other cases, of which this is one, conflicts are more likely to be avoided if one parent has primary decision-making responsibility.

[86]         In relation to decision-making authority, in J.A.F. v. J.J.F., 2019 BCSC 507, I stated:

[24]         A summary of considerations that have been applied in other cases in relation to the issue of decision-making authority is set out in J.E.H. v. P.L.H., 2013 BCSC 752. At para. 58, Abrioux J. wrote:

·       there has been a general unwillingness to impose mandatory joint decision-making on parents who cannot get along and are unable to communicate. This is out of concern for the well-being of the children;

·       the ability of the parents to communicate and cooperate remains an important factor when considering the best interests of a child: Jordan v. Jordan, 2001 BCSC 1058 at para. 20

·       joint guardianship with no ultimate decision-maker may not be appropriate on the basis that the cost and delay of applying to court each time the parents cannot agree is not warranted. Ultimately a decision has to be made. In such circumstances, the primary caregiver is best able to make the decision after making an effort to seek a consensus with the other parent: Andrew-Reed v. Reed, 2002 BCSC 513 at paras. 17-18

·       a particular parent’s understanding of the general and special needs of a child, such as autism spectrum disorders, is a factor which can be taken into account with respect to custody, guardianship, where the primary residence should be and which parent should have the ultimate decision-making power: M.H.K.J. v. K.J.J., 2011 BCSC 1673 at paras. 78-82

·       final decision-making authority can be ordered in situations to avoid continuing conflict due to the level of acrimony between the parents: S.M.M. v. J.P.H., 2011 BCSC 1084 at para. 227

·       the Joyce model of guardianship may well be appropriate if the court is satisfied the primary custodial parent will in fact consult and seek the input of the other parent prior to making major decisions: Chin v. Frass, 2011 BCSC 272 at para. 29.

[25]         I expect that other cases have added other considerations, based upon the particular circumstances of the case.  In every case, it is a matter of determining how decisions should be made in the best interests of the child or children, in the particular circumstances. The analysis is inevitably highly context-specific.

[87]         In this case, the respondent will be responsible for L.’s care for the majority of the time, and as I have said, he likely has better judgment as to what is in L.’s best interests.  This appears to coincide with Dr. Elterman’s opinion. Dr. Elterman recommends primary decision-making authority to the respondent, and I agree.

Call our Child Parenting Decision Making Authority lawyers today if you have questions concerning the best way for decisions to be made regarding your children. Toll-free 1 877 602 9900.

*Top Choice Award Top Family Lawyers (2014, 2016, 2017 2018, 2019), Top rated reviews on Google, Yelp, Lorne MacLean, QC named threebestrated family lawyers in Vancouver, Surrey, and Richmond. Read more about our awards.