02 June 2014

Shared Custody Bill Defeated on Second Reading

Bill C-560, a bill to amend the Divorce Act tabled by Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, was defeated by a whopping 80 to 174 at second reading on 28 May 2014.

If successful, the courts would have been required to impose a regime of shared custody — an equal distribution of children's time between their divorcing parents — except "if it is established that the best interests of the child would be substantially enhanced by allocating parenting time or parental responsibility other than equally." This presumption would have applied to all new parenting orders made under the Divorce Act, as well as to all orders previously made under the unamended act.

Regular readers will be aware of my view that defeat was the most appropriate result for Mr. Vellacott's bill, his third or fourth at-bat on this issue since 2009. My reasoning for this position, which you'll find in my 20 December 2014 post "Why There is No Place for Presumptions of Shared Parenting in Family Law: A Polemic for the Holiday Season,"is fairly straightforward and boils down to this:
"... it would do a gross disservice to our children to presume that the same parenting schedule is in the best interests of all of them. Their needs and interests must be considered and assessed individually, which is precisely what a system without presumptions affords."
The vote and its results can be found in the record of the House of Commons debates for the day; do a search on the page for "560." I am very pleased with this result.