The Family Law Act came into force in 2013 and brought with it a number of new terms describing the legal relationship between parents and children. Gone are terms such as custody and access. As a result, there is much confusion surrounding the new language. The purpose of this blog, then, is to define the new terms.
Guardianship is the natural starting point. A guardian is a person who has the right to make decisions about a child, including major decisions with respect to education, medical care, and religious choices.
A guardian has parenting time, which is the time a guardian is entitled to spend with the child under an agreement or court order.
Guardians are also subject to parenting arrangements, roughly, the arrangements respecting parenting time between guardians and parental responsibilities.
Parental responsibilities refers to the responsibility of guardians to make decisions about daily care as well as major decisions regarding education, medical care, and religious choices.
Parents who are not guardians do not have parenting time, are not subject to parenting arrangements, and do not have parental responsibilities. Rather, they have contact with the child. It is not uncommon to see grandparents or another relative enjoy contact, but not guardianship.