Arrangements for the kids: The best interests of the child test

Mother and toddler

When parents separate, they must make arrangements for their children, including where children spend their time and how decisions are made. The best interests of the child test is the test that is applied by a family court judge to decide parenting arrangements.

This test is the only test that the court can use for establishing parenting arrangements. It is intended to keep the court focused on what is best for the child rather than on any so-called rights of either parent to spend time with their child. In fact, there is no legal concept of parenting rights in this context in Canadian law.

In this presentation, we look at the new Children’s Law Reform (CLRA) in detail. The new Divorce Act varies only slightly from it and we cover that after the CLRA. Throughout the presentation we will discuss the role of family violence in determining what is in a child’s best interests as well as evidence that would support a woman’s case when she is dealing with an abusive ex-partner.

Part 1 – Laws applying to post-separation parenting arrangements.
Part 2 – Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act and the best interests of the child test.
Part 3 – The Divorce Act and the best interests test, and the new definition of family violence in both laws.

If you are a woman with children and you are leaving a relationship in which your partner has been abusive to you, our toolkit, The law and parenting arrangements after separation, will help you seek safe arrangements for the children. This toolkit is available for free in both English and French. Click here to learn more.