Rena Chen

Barrister & Solicitor

Guardianship and Custody

[email protected]

Guardianship and Custody

Separation and divorce can be a profoundly difficult time, especially if there are children involved.  Our goal is to help you consider the needs of the children first. There are difficult questions to work out, such as living arrangements, parenting time, how decisions are made, and what happens when there are safety concerns.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that perhaps one of the most traumatic experiences to a child is for her parents to be so engrossed in the “fight” over her that she has been reduced to nothing more than collateral damage. Support from a settlement focused or collaborative family lawyer in dealing with your separation is one way to minimize the disruptive process, but more importantly, we strongly suggest parents work with coaches.

Coaches are trained mental health professionals who work with parents in the divorce and separation process. Although coaches are commonly part of the team in the collaborative family law process, coaches can also be invaluable outside of the collaborative family law process.

With the support of coaches, parents grow to overcome challenges in a separation and form a parenting plan that will grow with the child. This would not only be more cost-effective for the parents, it would also result in more enduring arrangements and just perhaps, strengthened relationships.

For more information on coaches, please visit

Parental Responsibilities

As guardians, both parents have parental responsibility for their children and pursuant to s.41 of Family Law Act, the parental responsibilities are:

  1. making day-to-day decisions affecting the child and having day-to-day care, control and supervision of the child;
  2. making decisions respecting where the child will reside;
  3. making decisions respecting with whom the child will live and associate;
  4. making decisions respecting the child’s education and participation in extracurricular activities, including the nature, extent and location;
  5. making decisions respecting the child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage, including, if the child is an aboriginal child, the child’s aboriginal identity;
  6. subject to section 17 of the Infants Act, giving, refusing or withdrawing consent to medical, dental and other health-related treatments for the child;
  7. applying for a passport, licence, permit, benefit, privilege or other thing for the child;
  8. giving, refusing or withdrawing consent for the child, if consent is required;
  9. receiving and responding to any notice that a parent or guardian is entitled or required by law to receive;
  10. requesting and receiving from third parties health, education or other information respecting the child;
  11. subject to any applicable provincial legislation,
  12. starting, defending, compromising or settling any proceeding relating to the child, and
  13. identifying, advancing and protecting the child’s legal and financial interests;
  14. exercising any other responsibilities reasonably necessary to nurture the child’s development.

It is important to keep in mind that there are various ways to structure the exercise of parental responsibilities to facilitate cooperation between the parents.

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