top of page
  • Writer's pictureJared Davies, Lawyer

AFCC Parenting Plan Guide pursuant to Wenter v. Khait, 2023 ONSC 5547

Introduction


Decisions related to parenting are determined based the best interests of the child, as laid out in the law. A recent case, among others, has found utility in the AFCC Parenting Plan Guide, especially for toddlers, when it comes to determining the best interests of a child.


The current case, Wenter v. Khait, is a motion initiated by a father seeking an interim parenting schedule for his 29-month-old son after the separation of the parents. The mother, on the other hand, proposes a more gradual schedule of increasing parenting time. Although each parenting case is decided on the best interests of the child, the court heavily relied on the AFCC Guidelines. As the court stated at paragraph 13 and 20:


[13] The courts will take into consideration the guidelines set out in the AFCC Parenting Plan Guide (December 2021) (the “Guidelines”) for toddlers (Sribalan v. Dickson, 2023 ONSC 1254, at paras 2-5, 16, 18-19, 23, 25-29)...[20] Both parties rely on the Guidelines.


The AFCC Parenting Guidelines were created by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC-Ontario) to assist parents and their advisors in developing the best, child-focused, and realistic parenting plans.


Analysis


The court found more in favour of the mother’s proposal. The court says, “…[t]he graduated proposal by the Mother is more in keeping with the recommendations in the Guidelines set out for toddlers.” The court placed a heavy emphasis on the guidelines, recounting several pages dedicated to toddlers aged 18 to 36 months:


[20] Both parties rely on the Guidelines. The Guidelines state in relation to toddlers aged 18 – 36 months, at pages 18 and 19 (in part), that:


Toddlers need predictable and consistent routines and clear structures that help them develop a sense of limits to help them feel safe and secure. While they need to be closely supervised and have little sense of damage, they should have opportunities for exploration.

If parents have fully shared in the caretaking arrangements before the child has reached this age and the child has an easy temperament, parenting time can be shared equally as long as the separations from each parent are not too long (no more than two to three days or two nights for example)...


If the child has some trouble with transitions, or is not particularly adaptable or flexible, or if the parents are unable to effectively communicate with each other about the child, it may be better for a child this age to have a primary residence with one parent and frequent contact, including some overnight parenting time, with the other parent (for example three contacts during the week, made up of one or two 4 to 6 hour blocks and one or two non-consecutive overnights).”

[21] Further, at page 13 of the Guidelines,


The fact that one parent may have provided more care before separation and a child may be more closely attached to that parent may well have initial significance in making an initial post-separation parenting plan. However, it is important to recognize that regardless of prior parenting arrangements, and in the absence of concerns about risks to the safety or wellbeing of a child, after separation both parents are expected to have significant roles in the lives of their children after separation.


The court concluded that the child in question needed a gradual shift to the new parenting schedule. The court stated:


[29] This parenting arrangement provides for a transition period from two separate overnights per week, to 3 overnights a week (including two consecutive overnights) for the Father. By the case conference, the parties will have the benefit of observing the child’s transition into and increasing overnight schedule with the Father and will be approaching the pre-school age. However, each weekday, the child will be cared for by his maternal grandparents in their (and the Mother’s) home with his other bedroom and items of comfort at hand. In my view this is in the best interests of the child and is also consistent with the Guidelines and the maximum time principle balanced with the child’s existing status quo.


Conclusion


While the Guidelines say that its purpose is to help parents and their professional advisors to create parenting plans, the court also finds utility in them. The court demonstrates that the AFCC Parenting Plan Guide is a valuable resource and tool in parenting decisions. Ultimately, the best interests of the child should guide the legal process.

Comments


This site cannot provide, or be a supplement to, legal advice. This blog post does not account for the unique facts of your individual case. There is no guarantee the information in the enclosed blog post is accurate or up to date. Information which appears on this website is general legal information only and does not create a solicitor-client relationship. If you need advice based upon your own particular situation, please speak to a lawyer.

bottom of page