Regardless of whether parents are together or not, or live full-time with their children or not, they are considered to be guardians.
The only exception to this is if one of the parents never lived with the child and does not regularly care for the child.
All legal guardians of a child have parental responsibilities for this child. These responsibilities include:
- Making daily decisions about your child
- Having daily care and supervision of your child
- Deciding where your child will live
- Making decisions about your child’s education, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and other major decisions
Therefore, upon separation, you and your spouse must figure out how to divide and share responsibility for all of these aspects of your child’s life.
It is advisable to put these arrangements into a written parenting plan that includes:
- Who will make major decisions for the children (medical care, education, etc.)
- Where the children will live
- A detailed schedule outlining time for each parent who is a guardian
When making post-separation parenting arrangements, the British Columbia Family Law Act (the FLA) states that you must consider only the child’s best interests.
A child’s best interests includes all of the following:
- The child’s health and emotional well-being
- The child’s views, unless it is not appropriate to consider them
- The child’s need for stability at his or her age and stage of development
- The ability of parents or others to look after the child
- The effect of any family violence on the child’s security and well-being
It's important to note that laws pertaining to parenting arrangements and child support apply to parents regardless of their marital status or living arrangements.
If you and your spouse have children and are in the process of separating, it's advisable to speak with a lawyer who can help you work out a practical parenting plan for your situation.
Contact our office if you'd like help with developing parenting arrangements that work for you and your family.