The new Family Law Act does not use the words custody or access. It uses “guardianship”, “parenting arrangements”, and “contact” instead.

A guardian is a person who is responsible for caring for and making decisions for a child. All parents who live together after their child’s birth are both guardians of the child. If the parents separate, they both remain guardians of the child unless they agree or a court orders otherwise.

If a parent never lived with the child, he or she is not a guardian of the child unless:

  • He or she regularly cares for the child, or
  • Has been named guardian by a court order or agreement.

Guardians have parental responsibilities. Parental responsibilities include decisions about:

  • Daily care of the child
  • Health care
  • Religious upbringing
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Where the child lives.

Parental responsibilities can be shared between guardians, or assigned to a single guardian. If guardians share parental responsibilities, they are supposed to consult each other when making decisions.