When a couple separates, regardless of if they were married to begin with, the presumption is that their children will spend part of their time with one parent and part of their time with the other. It is beyond doubt that children do best when they have both of their parents involved in their life and, unless it is in the best interest of the child not to be with one parent, courts will generally grant joint legal custody. The time spent with each parent, however, is not always even.
Determing the parenting plan is often difficult. Yet many parents are turning to collaborative law to find a more equitable parenting arrangement. By looking for consensus, parents are better able to express what is most important to them and are willing to listen to their child's other parent in order to come to some type of agreement. It may not work for everyone, but collaborative law may be an option for divorcing parents who are still quite cordial with each other.
At least one Member of Parliament has tried to create a presumption of equal parenting arrangements by amending the Divorce Act. Conservative Maurice Vellacott put forth a private member's bill to create an equal-parenting presumption when it comes to divorcing parents.
What this means, in essence, is that if parents were to divorce through the courts, judges would automatically award parents equal parenting time with their children unless there was some evidence to persuade them otherwise. This represents a significant change from the current "best interests" test followed by the courts.
The bill did not pass, however, and judges will continue to try to make wise decisions about how custody should be divided between separating parents.
Source: The Chronicle Herald, "DIVORCE ACT: Parliament passes on equal-parenting presumption," Tim Covell, June 4, 2014