In 2021, Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act was amended to align it with recent changes to the Divorce Act.
The main changes relate to parenting issues, some of which are outlined below.
The outdated terms of ‘custody’ and ‘access’ were replaced with the less emotionally charged terms of ‘decision making responsibility’ and ‘parenting time’, reflecting the way that parenting roles have changed, and the way that courts have evolved in looking at these issues over time. These changes look to create less conflict by neutralizing the previous terms.
Additional changes include an expanded and clearer definition of the factors related to the best interests of a child (the key consideration when determining any parenting disputes), as well as an attempt to make decisions about mobility, when one parent may move with a child, more transparent and streamlined by distinguishing between minor moves that will not affect a child’s relationship with a parent, and greater moves (defined as ‘relocations’) that may have a significant impact on a parent’s involvement with a child. The Act sets out a clear procedure for parents to follow when proposing to and objecting to such moves.
Overall, the changes are an attempt to bring consistency and efficiency to these areas, and have been welcomed by family lawyers.