Calgary Edmonton Parenting Time Lawyers deal with cases where parenting time has ceased, is conditional, or needs to be supervised. Calgary parenting time reintroduction lawyers also deal with increasing the time a child spends with a parent. In today’s blog Peter Graburn and Kaye Booth review how parenting time may go from nonexistent, minimal, conditional, or supervised to a more normal parenting time or child contact situation.
Calgary Edmonton Parenting Time Lawyers 403 444 5503
Our skilled Calgary Edmonton Parenting Time Lawyers know Co-parenting can be hard. Sometimes it is difficult enough to be on the same page about parenting your child(ren) when you and your spouse are living together. But what if you and your ex-spouse are separated? And particularly what if one of the parents has not had regular contact with the children, whether because a regular schedule has not yet been established or, unfortunately, something happened that disrupted the regular parenting schedule (especially with a young child)? How do you (re)establish a regular parenting regime of a parent with a child where that parent has not had regular, frequent contact with the children? For general parenting time Alberta, information click here.
Supervised Parenting Time 403 444 5503
When a regular parenting regime has not been established or has been interrupted with the access parent, particularly if there have been allegations (or incidents) of domestic abuse, the primary custodial parent may want to impose supervised parenting time on the other parent before establishing a regular parenting schedule. Supervised parenting is a very extreme situation. Courts have held that supervised parenting time:
► is a tool reserved for unusual and exceptional circumstances;
► is a great intrusion into the relationship between the child and parent, and it’s (continued) imposition must be justified, and;
► the onus is on the parent who seeks to restrict the other parent’s access to demonstrate why that restriction is in the best interests of the child.
Alberta Courts disapprove of the indiscriminate use of supervised parenting time. In AGM v. BMW (2018 ABQB 966), where a father unreasonably denied parenting time to the mother under a supervised parenting Order, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Hollins held (at para. 14):
“I believe that this situation is the fault of both parents. The Manitoba Order directed the parties to agree on supervised access. It did not give the Father a veto that he could use to reject every suggested supervisor and effectively deny the Mother her court-ordered access.”
Incremental Increases in Parenting Time
So are there any other parenting options than supervised parenting time that can be used where one parent is not comfortable with a new or re-established parenting regime? In previous articles (see: Top 5 Parenting Time Principles – ) we discussed several parenting principles the Courts use in resolving parenting disputes in family law cases. One of these parenting principles is called “Incremental Increases” in parenting time. As previously stated, if one parent has been granted (or exercises) limited parenting time with the children, it may not be in the children’s best interests (particularly if the children are young) to greatly increase that parenting time extremely quickly (ie. you can’t go from “0 to 60” overnight). “Incremental increases” in parenting time, ie. extending the length of the parenting time in structured stages over a set period of time, is a reasonable parenting regime.
Instead of supervised parenting time, Alberta Courts have encouraged staged, incremental increases in parenting time in some cases. In Mason v. Mason (2013 ABQB 56), where a mother wanted professionally supervised parenting time for a father who had not seen his daughter for 18 months, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Veit held (at para. 30):
“One of the few statements [Ms. Mason] makes is that Mr. Mason has not seen his daughter in 18 months; Mr. Mason agrees with that statement and complains about that lack of access. Ms. Mason suggests that this parenting gap justifies a requirement of “professional” supervision for parenting. With respect, I do not agree. As set out above, a material gap in parenting may require some staged re-introduction, but it does not justify the artificiality, stigma, and expense of professional supervision.”
In Salehi v. Babrak (2017 ABQB 317), where a mother wanted professionally supervised parenting time for a father who was seeking shared overnight parenting of their young (ages 2, 4, and 5) children when he currently had parenting time for only a few hours a week, Justice Veit held (at para.’s 2-5):
“Ms. Babrak, who acknowledges that she has unilaterally denied her husband access to their children (for a year)… asks for a regime of commercially supervised parenting, without overnight access, but with police enforcement… It is obvious from the mother’s parenting position in the Provincial Court that she has no principled objection to the father having overnight access to the two older children; her position relative to the youngest child was presumably taken because of that child’s young age at the time… However, in light of the relatively long gap during which the mother has prevented the father’s access to these young children, the children’s re-introduction to their father will have to take place more gradually than requested by the father.”
Supervised or incremental increases in parenting time – which approach to (re)introduction of a child to an access parent (particularly for younger children) is in the “best interest of the child”? Both (may) have their times and places.
Unfortunately, there may be exceptional situations where the unusual and intrusive step of supervised parenting time may be necessary. But then other concerns arise. Who should supervise the parenting time: a family member (ie. a “friendly face”); a professional supervisor (a “neutral 3rd party”); the other parent (rarely)?
On the other hand, an incremental, staged increase in parenting time is less intrusive, but has its own issues: how frequent are the increases (over weeks or months); increases of time or frequency (or both); when should a regular parenting schedule finally be established?
Call Our Calgary Edmonton Parenting Time Lawyers Today 403 444 5503
Supervised or incremental increases in parenting time are often raised in high conflict family law disputes. MacLean Law is a family law firm concentrating on high conflict, medium to high net worth family law and we handle Calgary parenting time reintroduction disputes as well. MacLean Law is a national family law firm with offices in downtown Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, West Kelowna, Victoria, Surrey, and Fort St. John. Call our Calgary Edmonton Parenting Time Lawyers today to move forward.
* Thanks to our Calgary Office Associate Lawyer Kaye Booth for her research on this topic.