Ask a Lawyer – “I’ve been a victim of spousal abuse. How does this affect parenting time/decision making with our children?”
A particular issue in parental conduct is the risk of children being victims or witnesses of family violence. The courts are more likely to assess such a risk when deciding parenting time of the child. The presence of violence must now be a part of the assessment of a person’s fitness to parent.
In fact, recent amendments of the Divorce Act of Canada enacted certain provisions recognizing that family violence is a highly significant factor that a court would consider when determining the best interests of a child in proceedings regarding parental rights and responsibilities.
Courts don’t necessarily grant parenting time to abusive spouses. A court could, instead, grant some time with the children, in order for them to maintain meaningful contact with the parent. However, a court can make an order indicating that the abusive partner is not able to freely contact the children whenever they desire. In other words, the court will clearly indicate the terms of the parenting time in the order.
If the children are at risk of any form of abuse, parenting time could be denied all together. Alternatively, a court could order that the abusive partner exercise parenting time with the supervision of a neutral third party.