How Are Parenting and Contact Orders Different from Custody and Access?

April 5, 2021   |   Tanya Davies   |   blog
Custody & Access Toronto
Custody & Access Toronto

How Are Parenting and Contact Orders Different from Custody and Access?

On March 1, 2021, there was an update to the terminology used for child custody and child access orders. Part of the reason for the change is many felt the terms custody and access made it sound like children were property and something parents owned.

The new terminology reflects a change that aligns with the child’s best interest and parents’ responsibilities in caring for them. Existing and new custody and access orders are now referred to as parenting and contact orders.

What Is a Parenting Order?

A parenting order is a family court order which stipulates which parent has decision-making responsibility for the children and how parenting time will be shared between the parents. Custody is now referred to as decision-making authority and parenting time. Access is now referred to as parenting time.

What Is a Contact Order?

A contact order is another family court order that can be issued when a non-parent or non-guardian wants visitation with the minor children. For example, grandparents could file for a contact order to be able to have set visitation with their grandchildren.

How Are Existing Custody and Access Orders Affected?

Existing child custody and access orders do not change. The terms of these orders remain in effect as they were. The only change is in the terminology. So, instead of having a child custody and access order, you have a parenting order with decision-making responsibilities and parenting time.

Is It Necessary to Make Changes to an Existing Order?

No, the family court will automatically update the terminology used with your existing order. The reasons to request a change have not changed. You still need to demonstrate there has been a material change to a parent’s circumstances or a child’s circumstances that could warrant making a change.

Do I Need a Parenting Order When Separating?

It is in the child’s best interest to request a parenting order through a Toronto divorce lawyer, even in cases where you are not sure if you will file for divorce. The parenting order ensures both parents have parenting time and will determine who has decision-making responsibilities for major decisions.

How Are Custody Terms Different?

Existing custody and access orders used various terms to describe the type of custody each parent has with their children. These terms have also changed as follows:

  • Custodial Parent – The custodial parent is now referred to as the majority parenting time parent, where the parenting time is at least 60%.
  • Split Custody – The new term is split parenting time.
  • Shared Custody – The new term is shared parenting time.
  • Access – Access refers to a non-custodial parent’s access time with their children. The new term to use is simply parenting time. 

For further information about obtaining a parenting time order or contact order, please feel free to contact one of our Toronto divorce lawyers at Davies Law Firm by calling (416) 363-0064 to schedule a consultation today!

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