Parenting, Access and Visitation

Parenting, Access and Visitation

We understand that spending time with your children is an important issue during separation. Maximizing your time with your children after a separation is quite a common issue between parents. The Kurie Law Group family law team are committed to assisting you with applying for access and changes to your parenting arrangements.

Some common questions we hear when dealing with parenting, access and visitation:

  • How do I get shared parenting?
  • When can a child decide which parent to live with?
  • How do I get a parenting order?
  • How can I get access to my child?
  • How can I get more time with my child?
  • Can we organize our own parenting arrangement?
  • My ex is always late for our arrangements, how do I make him or her show up on time?

Parenting and Custody

What a lot of parents don’t realize is custody is not the same as parenting. Parenting access and visitation deals with the amount of time you spend with your child whereas custody deals with decision making regarding children

Parenting Arrangements

In some cases the parents have a shared parenting arrangement. This can be where the parties share the children equally 50% of the time, or in some cases, the split could be 55% and 45%.

When one parent has more time with the child, such as a 60/40 split, this is commonly referred to as primary parenting.

When a parent has the children in their care for more than 60% of the time they are considered the primary parent. A common arrangement here is the non-primary parent has the children every other weekend.

In a shared parenting arrangement, access can be split on a week on week off basis. Another common way to split the access is a three days on two days off split.

Access

Access is a term you commonly see used in the Divorce Act and it refers to the amount of time that a parent without primary access (or custody) spends with the children. There is a trend in family law of simply calling this “parenting time.”

Access arrangements can be flexible and the parents can work together to create a schedule that they both feel is reasonable. If parents cannot agree to an arrangement, the courts can order a specified access plan.

Many court orders or agreements simply say that the access parent has “reasonable and generous access as agreed to between the parties in writing.” This allows parents to have the freedom to agree to further access time that are not laid out in their agreement or order.

Specified access is when the access is set during specific times and dates. Some examples of specified access that we see is:

  • The parent who does not have the primary care of the children has access every second weekend, starting on Friday after school until Sunday at 7 pm.
  • The parent who does not have the primary care of the children has access every second weekend, starting on Friday after school until Sunday at 7 pm. And every Wednesday beginning after school until 7pm Wednesday night.

When it comes to holidays, some common ways to split access are:

  • Christmas break is to be split equally with one parent having the first half of the break to include Christmas day and the other parent to have the second half of the Christmas break to include New Year’s Eve, which is alternated on a yearly basis. Easter, Thanksgiving and Spring break are also alternated on a yearly basis.
  • Summer access is to be split on week on week off basis, with the parents beginning the summer alternating on a yearly basis.

Parents who do not follow an access order?
In some cases, we see a parent who is not correctly following an order. In some of these cases a Justice might order a police enforcement clause to help ensure that the accessing parent returns a child after their access, or that the parent who has primary custody brings the children to a parent during their access time.

Common courses that are taken in the course of a divorce and separation

Parenting After Separation (PAS)
Parenting After Separation is a course that is offered online or in person to parents that are going through a divorce or separation. This free course offers information to parents about the effects that their separation/divorce has on the children. They provide techniques for speaking with one another to help avoid further conflict.

PAS teaches parents the importance of working together to meet children’s health, social, educational and emotional needs. The program encourages parents to consider dispute resolution options including mediation.

PAS is a mandatory course for parents to take when they have children under 16 years old and where parents wish to get a divorce.

Parenting After Separation High Conflict (PASHC)
This course is for parents and guardians who view their separation as high conflict. For some parents, the level of conflict makes direct communication difficult or impossible.

Other parents may experience periods of high conflict alternating with periods of collaborative parenting. High levels of conflict between parents will always negatively affect children.

This course is an addition to the Parenting After Separation course that you previously completed. You will remember that Parenting After Separation emphasized the need for parents to work together to raise their children after separation.

This course teaches additional strategies to help you reduce the level of conflict in your parenting relationship and will help you to minimize the negative impacts of parental conflict on your children. This course will take approximately three hours for you to complete.

Focus On Communication In Separation (FOCIS)
Focus on Communication in Separation (FOCIS) is a six hour in person, skill-based course teaching parents how to communicate effectively while living apart.

FOCIS aims to enhance the communication skills of parents, reduce parental conflict and improve long term outcomes for children.

Parents completing the course will be able to decrease tension and stress for themselves and their children by reducing conflict through improved communication and problem solving skills.

Parents attend separate groups so each parent has a safe place to learn and practice new skills. A certificate of completion is provided at the end of the course.

Course topics include:

  • Impact of parental conflict on children
  • Importance of listening
  • Understanding conflict, conflict styles and conflict cycles
  • Effective use of questions, paraphrases and summarizing techniques
  • Mindsets and perceptions
  • Anger

Kurie Law Group remains open as we continue to assist clients during this ongoing crisis. During this time, however, we ask that you do not attend our offices in person but connect with us via phone or email. We are closely following Alberta Health Services (AHS) updates about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). If you have any questions as to how this crisis may impact your legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.