Oshawa Family Lawyers Assisting Clients with Shared Parenting Arrangements
Clients who are separating or getting divorced and have children often ask: what is the likelihood of my child splitting their time 50/50 between me and my spouse? As with many other questions in family law, there is never a clear answer to this question because each case is very fact specific. One couple may split the time 50/50, while another family will have a 60/40 split, while a third family may have a different arrangement entirely, depending on their personal circumstances.
Custody is never straight forward and simple. When custody becomes shared, it generally complicates the situation further and affects the calculation of child support. At Borden Family Law, we have been helping clients determine the best custody arrangement for their family for 17 years. We can help make the whole process of figuring out shared parenting less stressful and less complicated.
What is Shared Parenting?
Shared parenting is when couples aim to have their children spend a minimum of 40% of their time with each parent. This is also called shared custody and is specifically defined in the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Shared parenting agreements typically come to life outside of court. They are arrangements that parents come to on their own, through the help of their lawyers, without getting a judgment from the court.
Ultimately, these arrangements will be unique to each family. There are several goals that parents should consider, including:
- Clearly defining each parent’s roles and responsibilities;
- Making sure the custody is clear, detailed, reliable, and easy to understand to avoid any confusion and conflict;
- Being realistic and flexible to accommodate unexpected and real life situations; and
- Addressing all parenting decisions, or at least outlining how parenting decisions will be made.
When making a shared parenting agreement, parents need to remember that they must do what is best for their children. This means they must consider their schedules, their children’s schedules, and how to best coordinate any conflicts. At Borden Family Law we can help clients who are going through a separation or divorce address any related issues, including shared parenting and other arrangements pertaining to their children.
Shared Parenting is Not Necessarily Equal Parenting
It is important for parents who are separating to understand that shared parenting is not the same as equal parenting. Even though Ontario’s Family Law Act states that each parent is entitled to custody, such divided arrangements do not always happen. The courts will always look at what is the best interests of the child or children when deciding who has custody, how much custody they have, and which parent has access.
One thing that parents can be certain of is that if they enter into a shared custody agreement they will have custody of their children for at least 40% of the year.
Determining whether the 40% threshold has been met is the source of a lot of confusion, and can result in a lot of litigation. In some situations, the court will calculate the percentage based on hours spent in each parent’s custody, while in other cases, judges will look at the number of days. Whatever the case, shared parenting is best approached with the assistance of a knowledgeable family lawyer, or, depending on the circumstances, through the Collaborative Family Law process.
What Does the 40% Threshold Mean?
The question of shared parenting always comes back to the issue of support. Calculating child support is dependent on custody, and how much custody one parent has. However, just because one parent has the children for 60% of the time, that does not mean that their costs are higher than that of the parent who has the children for 40% of the time. The 40% threshold can be a tool to help determine how much support you are owed. However, once that threshold is met, there is no clear-cut calculations. The threshold simply allows the court to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines.
In determining the amount of support in shared custody, the courts will consider the amounts set out in the Child Support Guidelines, any increased costs of the shared custody arrangement, and the conditions, means, needs, and other circumstances of each spouse and any child for whom support is sought. This allows the court to make their decision on a case-by-case basis, rather than use just a set formula. Every child’s needs are different, and every parent’s resources are different. This provision in the Guidelines allows for flexibility.
Knowledgeable and Strategic Oshawa Family Lawyers Assisting Clients with their Child Custody and Support Matters
At Borden Family Law, we have been helping clients with their child support and custody questions for more than 17 years. We understand that the breakdown of a relationship is difficult, especially on children. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you and your spouse come to arrangements that are agreeable for both parents and any kids. Call us at 905-576-6090, or contact us online. Ask about our bundled services and flat fees.