The Canadian Bar Insurance Association

Quality time important factor in visitation schedule

In a separated family, quality over quantity should be considered when determining a visitation schedule between each parent and the child, says Toronto family lawyer Herschel Fogelman.

In a recent case, Fogelman’s client Danielle Rice wanted permission to leave Toronto and relocate to Winnipeg with her five-year-old daughter, while the father Warren Prout argued he would lose too many visitation days should the move occur.  Read Endorsement

“At the time of the trial, the father had a reasonable access schedule of alternating weekends, Friday to Monday mid-week time and vacation,” says Fogelman, principal with Fogelman Law.

“My submission to the court in part was that it should focus on the quality of the time offered, not the quantity,” he says. “The quantity of time was the wrong way to judge or value the relationship. More importantly was quality time, which would be met by my client’s proposed schedule.”

The court accepted Fogelman’s submission, allowing Rice to move to Winnipeg, with the quality-versus-quantity argument referenced in the reasons.

“While there may be at the outset a slight reduction in the amount of time spent by the child with her father, the changed context is likely to improve the quality of time spent together with both parents over the longer term,” writes Justice Kevin Whitaker.

“Maximum contact must be understood in this context and not just as a simple calculation of hours. I find the proposed move will only enrich the child’s parental bonds.”

Fogelman says, “Part of the argument focused on intact/non-separated families. I argued that in an intact family, the parents both have ‘time’ with their children, yet for many families, the relationship between a child and a parent may be strained or non-existent. Therefore, the argument that quantity is the truest measure fails, as that is not, in and of itself, the determining factor in a healthy parent-child relationship."

The move to Winnipeg meant a new job for Rice, connection to close family in the city and a more “fulfilled and enriched” life for her daughter, the endorsement reads.

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