Did you know that the term “custody” actually originates from property law, effectively using this term when referring to children in family law? As a practitioner who understands the fight about “custody,” I am very much looking forward to the long-awaited amendments to the Divorce Act, with the first substantial change to the parenting provisions since the Act came into effect in 1986. A few of the changes include:
Custody and access– these terms will be replaced with “parenting orders” and “contact orders.”
The best interest of the child (BIOC) continues to be the foundational principle and it would create a duty for parents to exercise their responsibilities in accordance with the BIOC, including equal shared parenting when appropriate. Unfortunately, equal shared parenting is not yet a presumption.
Resolution outside of court– continue to include language that encourages agreements outside of court by way of alternative dispute resolution.
This is a true step forward which might actually lead to more settlements, since parties will no longer be fighting about who gets “custody.” I look forward to seeing how the new legislature will impact decisions regarding parenting and if we are finally moving one step closer to more decisions of equal shared parenting, even if not yet a starting point in the legislature.
**The above is not legal advice. Please contact a lawyer if you seek legal advice.