Jun 17, 2014

The Masuhara Model of Shared Parental Responsibilities

Van Kooten v. More, 2013 BCSC 1076 (CanLII)
In his recently released judgment in Van Kooten v. More, Mr. Justice Masuhara of the British Columbia Supreme Court has made an order distributing parental responsibilities between guardians under the Family Law Act that may find use as a model for future orders and agreements on the subject:
The guardians will exercise all parental responsibilities with respect to the child on the following terms:
1. in the event of the death of a guardian, the surviving guardian(s) will be the only guardian(s) of the child;
2. each guardian will have the obligation to advise the other guardian(s) of any matters of a significant nature affecting the child;
3. each guardian will have the obligation to discuss with the other [guardian(s)] any significant decisions that have to be made concerning the child, including significant decisions about the child’s health (except emergency decisions), education, religious instruction and general welfare;
4. the guardians will have the obligation to discuss significant decisions with each other and the obligation to try to reach agreement on those decisions;
5. in the event that the guardians cannot reach agreement on a significant decision despite their best efforts, Mr. More will be entitled to make those decisions and the other guardian(s) will have the right to apply for directions on any decision the guardian(s) consider(s) contrary to the best interests of the child, under s. 49 of the Family Law Act;
6. each guardian will have the right to obtain information concerning the child directly from third parties, including but not limited to teachers, counsellors, medical professionals and third party care givers; and,
7. the guardians will maintain a common exchange journal which is to be exchanged when the child is transferred to the other [guardian(s)], and each guardian is to record on a daily basis while the child is in its care matters relating to the child including

a) school (such as events, key dates, report cards, newsletters, outings, assignments, home reading, parent/teacher meetings and homework),

b) health (observations of the child, child’s complaints, doctors' appointments, dental appointments, medications, injuries and diet),

c) social (invitations, activities taken and family events),

d) extracurricular activities (registration, schedules, equipment and events),

e) clothing,

f) key contact information for doctors, dentists, daycare and sitters, and [guardians'] emergency contact numbers, and

g) any other matter relating to the care of the child.

This order clearly draws its inspiration from the popular the Joyce model of joint guardianship under the former Family Relations Act, and includes special provisions governing communication between guardians about important events in the child's life.
See my post "The Crawford Model of Shared Parental Responsibilities" for a discussion of the sharing of parental responsibilities required in the case of G.P. v. M.J.R.P., and my blog post "Adapting Joyce and Horn Models for Divorce Act and FLA" on the Courthouse Libraries BC website for other potential models.
My thanks to my colleague Thomas Wallwork for bringing this helpful new decision to my attention.