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How Are Parenting Arrangements Affected by Parental Relocation in Saskatchewan?

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Can Parents Have Joint Decision Making in Saskatchewan if They Don’t Live in the Same Place?

Suppose they live in the same town and can negotiate a mutually agreed upon shared parenting arrangement, in that case, the courts will likely approve joint decision making. That said, depending on the town and its size, there can still be challenges if it takes considerable time to drive back and forth between the towns.

It can be more complicated if one parent wants to move to another town and still share parenting time. If the parents are trying to share parenting 50/50, but there’s a considerable commute that’s not convenient or practical during the week (especially for school-age children), a different arrangement may need to be made, such as the child living with one parent during the week to have a stable school life, while the other parent may see the child less often, such as on some weekends or school holidays.

Both parents should keep in mind that the courts will look at what’s in the child’s best interests, and they may not think a constant back-and-forth meets those guidelines.

What Are the Legal Requirements for a Parent to Move with the Children in Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan’s Children’s Law Act requires the parent moving to provide written notice to the other parent at least 60 days before the move. The written notice must set out the details, including the new address, the moving date, and any updated contact information. It must also propose a new parenting time plan and how parental responsibilities will be divided and handled.

If the other parent objects to the relocation, they must respond to the written notice within 30 days of receiving it. That takes the form of filing relevant forms with the court, noting the objection. If they don’t file an objection within 30 days, and there’s no binding court order or separation agreement preventing the move, the relocating parent can go ahead with the move. This is a relatively recent legal development to provide a process for parents who want to move.

What Happens if the Parent Who Isn’t Relocating Doesn’t Agree to the Change?

If a parent wants to relocate and make arrangements to take the child with them as part of their relocation, and the other parent doesn’t agree, this may be resolved in a couple of ways. One way is to go to court and present each parent’s arguments for and against the child’s moving. The second is to use mediation. Given that recent changes in Saskatchewan’s family laws require disputes that come to the court must first go to a dispute resolution process such as mediation, it’s logical to take that approach first.

One aspect to keep in mind when approaching either mediation or going to court if mediation doesn’t work, is that the primary goal in either case is to look at what’s in the child’s best interests. A mediator will keep that first and foremost in the discussions.

How Does Mediation Work in Cases Like These?

Mediation is a process that can help parents work through disagreements by taking a more holistic, collaborative approach rather than having a third party impose a decision upon the family. Instead of both sides arguing their preferences in court, mediation involves one mediator who’s impartial, taking the side of neither parent.

The process involves meeting separately with a mediator and also in joint meetings where both parties (and sometimes their lawyers as well) meet with the mediator to hear the wishes and thought processes of each parent. Allowing both parents to be heard thoroughly can help each feel more confident in the discussions. It also allows the mediator the chance to present ideas the parents may not have thought of and allows them to be more collaborative than they would be if in court.

Because the mediator understands the court’s stance regarding the child’s best interests, they may guide the parents into seeing why one approach may be more acceptable to the court than the other and recognize what’s truly best for the child.

What Factors Do Saskatchewan Courts Look at for Parenting Arrangements?

Saskatchewan courts prefer to award joint decision-making whenever possible unless it’s not in the child’s best interests (such as in cases where one parent is abusive). But if one parent’s relocation makes joint decision-making impossible, the law requires that the parties consider:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Number and strength of relationships between the child and others in the extended family members and friends in the community
  • How each parent is capable of parenting the child in terms of their social, emotional, and financial/physical needs
  • If the parents were not in a shared parenting arrangement, which parent did most of the parenting

What if I Need Help with Parenting Issues?

Call Panko Collaborative Law & Mediation at 306-518-8107 for a consultation. Divorce has been identified as one of life’s most stressful situations, and when children are involved, it can be even more so. We understand that you want what’s best for your child, and you want to be as involved in their life as possible. Our holistic, collaborative approach to working with clients during separation and divorce supports your ability to work through the process more smoothly and allows you to focus on your child.

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