Under s. 37 of the FLA, parenting issues must be determined based only on what is in the best interests of the children.

Section 37 states: “In making an agreement or order […] respecting guardianship, parenting arrangements or contact with a child, the parties and the court must consider the best interests of the child only.” This analysis includes a consideration of all of the child’s needs and circumstances, including: the child’s health and emotional well-being; the child’s views (if appropriate in the circumstances); the nature and strength of the relationships between the child and significant persons in the child’s life; the history of the child’s care; the child’s need for stability; the ability of each parent to exercise his or her responsibilities; the impact of any family violence on the child’s safety, security or well-being;  whether the person responsible for family violence is impaired in his or her ability to care for the child and meet the child’s needs; the appropriateness of an arrangement that would require the child’s guardians to cooperate; and any civil or criminal proceeding relevant to the child’s safety, security or well-being.

On considering these factors, a court may decide that is not in a child’s interest for the parents to share parenting responsibilities.

Under s. 40 of the FLA, only guardians can exercise parental responsibilities.

Under s. 59 of the FLA, the court can grant “contact” with a child to a person who is not a guardian.

Courts acknowledge that it is in the best interest of every child to have a close, loving and nurturing relationship with both parents. If one parent is having difficulty providing for a child’s basic needs, the court may facilitate a relationship between that parent and the child by way of limited or supervised access. The objective of supervised access is to ensure that children have contact with the parent in a safe environment.

If you are not seeing your child or children at all, you may apply for either an order for a shared parenting schedule or for either supervised or unsupervised contact with the child.