What is the Purpose of Interim Parenting Orders?
As soon as separation occurs, parents must start to make decisions about who will have parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for their children and when they will go into effect. The Divorce Act allows the court to implement interim parenting orders while the parents figure out their long-term plans. Interim orders provide stability for children while the adults work through the divorce and/or separation process. While these interim order family court are temporary rulings, they hold the same legal enforceability as final parenting orders.
In complex cases, final determinations on parenting orders can take months or even years, so interim orders play a vital role in assigning parental responsibilities during this challenging time. If you are a parent who has recently begun the divorce process, an Ontario family law lawyer with experience in drafting parenting orders can help you ensure that you continue to play a meaningful role in your child’s life. Reach out to our law firm today to learn how we can assist you.
Why isn’t the term “custody” used regarding these orders?
In the past, interim parenting orders were known as interim parenting or temporary custody orders, and you may still hear them referred to by these terms. However, the Divorce Act has been amended in recent years to reflect an emphasis on the well-being of the children involved.
This change has resulted in updated legal terminology that centers around the child’s needs and best interests. Therefore, “access” and “custody” have been replaced with the terms “parenting time” and “decision-making responsibility” in court proceedings.
How Are Interim Parenting Orders Created?
A few different scenarios could result in the creation of interim parenting orders. The process for your particular case will depend on the complexity of your situation, whether or not you and your ex-spouse can agree on terms, and the needs of your child(ren). Unless there are unusual extenuating circumstances, most interim parenting orders can be implemented without needing a lengthy hearing.
A judge must approve any interim parenting order before it is legally enforceable in most jurisdictions. They will consider whether a proposed plan is in the child’s best interests and may make modifications as they deem necessary. Some ways an interim parenting order can be enacted include:
- Both parents agree on a parenting plan, and the judge approves it.
- The judge approves an agreed-upon plan with modifications.
- Each parent creates a plan, and the judge combines them.
- Each parent proposes a plan, and the judge accepts one parent’s plan.
- The judge makes their own interim parenting plan based on the child’s needs.
Who Can Apply for an Interim Parenting Order?
Pursuant to the Divorce Act, anyone who has applied for a parenting order is eligible to apply for an interim parenting order. Either or both spouses in the divorce proceeding can apply.
Other individuals may apply, but only if they are currently in or seeking a parental role, such as:
- Biological parent(s) not involved in the divorce or separation.
- Grandparents or other family members looking to have parental rights.
- Other individuals who have been named as a child’s legal guardian.
Why Are Interim Parenting Orders So Critical?
While interim parenting orders are technically temporary, the court often uses them as a model for the permanent parenting plan unless either side can clearly demonstrate why they should be modified. The court’s main objective is to look after the child’s well-being and protect their best interests. As such, they prefer to maintain the existing arrangement whenever possible because changing the child’s care pattern may be highly disruptive.
Due to this preference by the court, it is crucial to create an interim parenting plan that is feasible for the long term because it may be challenging to introduce significant modifications later when negotiating a final parenting plan. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you plan ahead and build a parenting agreement that is beneficial for your child and you.
What if You Disagree With the Court’s Interim Decision?
As with any court proceeding, you have the right to appeal a decision if you have valid reasons for disagreement. You must have concise documentation to support your argument and follow the appropriate legal process. However, you must remember that the court does not generally consider what is convenient or best for each parent.
Instead, they are concerned about the well-being of the child. If you have strong preferences, it is best to be thoroughly involved in the negotiation process so you can make your wishes heard and create a solid plan that does not leave the decision entirely up to the judge. Your lawyer can advise you on the next steps to take if you feel that the interim orders are not serving your child’s best interests.
How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help You Create a Sustainable Interim Parenting Plan?
As a parent, you want what is best for your child, whether that involves a short-term agreement or a long-term plan. Maintaining stability in your child’s life throughout the divorce process can be crucial to their well-being. A solid interim parenting plan that can transition smoothly into a permanent parenting order is often beneficial to your family.
Our law firm has years of experience helping parents craft the best possible parenting plans for their children. Even if your divorce or separation was less than amicable, we can assist you in negotiating an interim parenting order that minimizes the stress and disruption for your child and paves the way for a more permanent parenting order that accounts for the needs of your family. Contact our law office today to discuss your case with a helpful Ontario family law lawyer.