As discussed in our previous article, “orders for custody” and “orders for access” have now been renamed “parenting orders” and “contact orders,” respectively.
Parenting orders under S. 16.1 are available to spouses, parents of the child, and those who stand or intend to stand in the place of a parent. The Amendment allows third parties (such as grandparents) to make an application for a parenting order, however they need leave (permission) of the court.
The newly introduced “contact order” presents a significant opportunity for grandparents or stepparents who wish to maintain a relationship with a child or seek time with them. This change reflects a recognition of wider family structures and the importance of a child’s relationship with relatives who are not generally considered part of the “nuclear” family unit.
It is unclear at this point what the test for leave will be and how the courts will interpret and apply this new, important provision.
These amendments will only be effective for court orders made after March 1, 2021. To see a more detailed list of the changes, you can visit the Department of Justice website. If you have questions regarding a family law matter, contact our office and book a consultation to speak with one of our lawyers.