Parental Rights Lawyers & Agreements

We Are Here to Help with Your Parental Visitation & Access Rights

Services we Offer Parents

Child Visitation and Access Lawyers in Vancouver & Lynden, BC

At Norton Law, we can help you navigate through the difficult waters of separating not only from your spouse and dividing your property but in separating yourselves from the family routine you once enjoyed with your children prior to separation.  Whether it’s a:

  • custody agreement
  • parenting plan
  • visitation schedule

we’re here to help you develop whatever you need in order to maximize your time with your children after you separate.

We can help negotiate a parenting schedule during these difficult and challenging times.

Parenting Plans & Agreements

What is a parenting plan or parenting agreement?

Often times there is confusion about legal terms and it is important to understand the words and terms that our courts use. It is more important, however, until things return to normal, to figure out what your parenting arrangements are going to look like, at least over the course of the next few months, with respect to the day-to-day living and decision-making arrangements for your children. 

When parents are able to reach their own parenting arrangements, we call that a parenting plan.  This can be obtained by negotiating and reducing to writing that agreement. Therefore, a parenting plan is a written document between parents that sets out how the children will be parented now that the parents are no longer together.  The parenting plan should have enough detail to be useful and enough flexibility to be realistic. While some parents can work well together after separation and don’t need a great deal of detail in their parenting plan, other parents experience conflict with their ex so typically require more detail included in the parenting plan.

When determining a parenting plan, the law requires the court only consider what is in the best interest of the child.  At the time of this pandemic, the best interest of the child may be interpreted more broadly to consider the child’s, and extended family’s, health if the child is traveling back and forth between parents.

How long does it take to get access to my child?

Following a separation, there may be interruptions in one parent’s time with their child or children as the parties try to figure out a parenting plan. It is important to try to develop a parenting plan, at least on a temporary basis, as soon as possible. 

What should a parenting plan include?

All parenting plans should include:

  •   how decisions will be made about the children;
  •   when each parent will spend time with the children;
  •   how information about the children will be shared between the parents; and
  •   how other parenting issues will be addressed by the parties in the future.

In order to develop a parenting plan with the other parent, you often times need to engage the services of a lawyer to help negotiate that plan.  Once a parenting plan is in place, that can be made part of your court order, if you choose to get a court order put in place later on.

What is considered reasonable access?

Reasonable access is a term that is somewhat outdated. It was a term typically used to describe the parenting time the non-custodial parent had with the child or children. At one time a parent would have custody of the children and the while the other parent had “reasonable access, at reasonable times, upon reasonable notice”.  This usually meant the non-custodial parent would have access to the child upon 48 to 72 hours of making the request, but that there was no set schedule. Clearly, this could only work with parents whose schedules were flexible and could maintain a positive post-separation relationship.

With parents and children being busier than ever, and newly blended families introducing further scheduling challenges for families, reasonable access is no longer typically used in parenting plans.

Can a parent deny another parent access or visitation in British Columbia?

Our laws provide a “maximum contact principle”.  That is to say, it is usually in the best interest of the children to have maximum contact with both parents.  Of course, this is predicated on the assumption that there was no violence and/or domestic abuse. So, for the most part, parents cannot deny access to the other parent when it comes to their children.  If one parent attempts to do this, an emergency application (subject to a Judge determining it is urgent and essential) may be made to the courts to provide for access or parenting time between the children and the parent, in whatever form the court thinks best during these unprecedented times.

Parental Visitation & Access Rights

What are Access Rights?

As indicated, access is a somewhat outmoded word for parenting time.  If one parent has custody or primary care of the children, then the non-custodial (non-primary caregiver) parent has the right to have access or parenting time with their child.

What Rights do Parents Have?

The right to spend time with both parents is actually the right of the child.

If a custodial parent is the primary caregiver, then that parent has the right to make the day-to-day decisions for the child. If a child gets injured, regardless of which parent the child is with, then that parent has the right to make emergency decisions for the child and notify the other parent as soon as reasonably possible.

Types of Access & Visitation

Access

Access is the parenting time that a non-custodial parent, non-primary care parent and non-share parent has with their child.  This is an arrangement that spells out the time that the non-primary caregiver has with the children. 

The term “access” was removed from provincial legislation in 2017 and replaced with the terms “parenting time”, “contact time”, and “interaction”. The term “access” is still used in divorce matters however not in Provincial Familly Court matters. 

Parenting time

Parenting time is the time a child spends with a parent (or guardian) under an agreement or court order.

Contact time

Contact time is the time that a child spends with someone other than a parent (or guardian) under an agreement or court order.  For instance, a grandparent or family member.

Interaction

Interaction means direct or indirect association with a child, outside of parenting time or contact time such as:

  •   Facetime or Skype with a child;
  •   phone calls, emails or letters;
  •   gifts or cards;
  •   attending the child’s school activities or extra-curricular activities.

Supervised Access

Supervised access is parenting time between a parent and the children supervised by another responsible adult.  Supervised access is typically ordered in situations where there may be some risks to the safety of the child. For example, if a parent has untreated mental health or addiction issues, or if a parent has been absent for a long period of time, it may be suitable to have the visitation or parenting time supervised by a third party.

No Access

No access between a parent and child is unusual and is rarely ordered by a court.  Typically no access would be ordered if the child had been in danger while in the care of the other parent.

Protecting Your Parenting Rights for your Family

At Norton Law, we have experienced lawyers to help you not only pilot you through the system, but help you identify what types of parenting and access might be appropriate in your particular circumstance, while always keeping in mind the best interest of your children.

Our top priority is representing our clients and their interests regarding their family law matters.  We help by advising of the legal options for their family and childrens’ wellbeing. We understand the many issues that may occur and are encountered by our clients throughout parent visitation and access matters.

To learn more about parenting agreements, plans, rights and access call Norton Law at (855) 810-5286 to book a consultation with one of our family lawyers in British Columbia.