Is equal shared parenting in children’s best interests?

On behalf of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

When parents in Calgary divorce, they not only have to divide up their marital estate, but they must also divide their children’s time between them. Only in rare cases is one parent granted total custody over a child. More often than not, children will split their time between both parents. What percentage they spend with one parent or the other, however, is up to their parents’ arrangement or, if the parents can’t agree, what the judge determines to be in the children’s best interests.

It seems many people in Canada, however, believe that the best possible alternative is for parents to spend equal amounts of time with their children. Instead of having a primary and secondary parent, children will have relationships with both of their parents.

Advocates for just such a system want the Divorce Act to be amended to grant a rebuttable but automatic presumption that both parents will have equal shared custody over their children. Granted, if both parents want to agree to an unequal shared custody arrangement, they are welcome to, but the presumption will be that each parent gets half of the children’s time. Moreover, as a rebuttable presumption, one parent can attempt to show that it is in the children’s best interest to spend a greater amount of time with him or her than with the other parent.

Research supports a more equitable distribution of parenting time. Granted, it won’t work in every situation, but those situations can also be dealt with on a case-by-base basis. What do you think? Should divorcing parents have equal shared custody?

Source: Law Times, “Speaker’s Corner: Time for Canada to embrace equal shared parenting,” Brian Ludmer, May 5, 2014

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