Child Custody (Parenting Time) In Quebec: What You Need To Know

“Transition to ‘Parenting Time’: A Shift from ‘Custody’ and ‘Access'”


As of March 1, 2021, the Divorce Act has replaced the terms “custody” and “access” with “parenting time.” This shift aims to minimize parental conflict and prioritize the child’s best interests. Parenting time now refers to the period a child spends under the care of one parent, empowering parents to make daily decisions collectively. The previous distinctions between “custody” and “access” have been eliminated, emphasizing a more harmonious approach to co-parenting.


Understanding Child Custody in Quebec


Quebec family law emphasizes the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in custody matters. Courts seek arrangements that promote the child’s well-being, ensuring a safe and supportive environment.


Types of Child Custody


Custody or parenting time can be joint (shared) or sole, depending on the circumstances. Joint custody or parenting entails both parents sharing time spent with the minor child and decision-making responsibilities, while sole custody grants one parent the majority  (over 60%) of the parenting schedule. That being said, the parenting time or custody is different from parental authority which usually enables both parents to participate in the major decisions related to the minor child, independent of the type of custody.


Factors Influencing Custody Decisions


Courts evaluate various factors when determining custody arrangements in the best interest of the child, including each parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

Parenting Plans and Agreements


Parents are encouraged to collaborate on parenting plans that outline custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making responsibilities. Courts generally respect agreements reached amicably between parents.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution


Quebec encourages mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods to help parents reach mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation can provide a less adversarial and more cooperative environment, fostering better communication.

Modification of Custody Orders


Circumstances may change over time, necessitating adjustments to custody orders. Courts can modify custody arrangements if there is a significant change in the child’s needs or either parent’s circumstances.

Enforcement of Custody Orders


If a parent fails to comply with a custody order, legal remedies are available to ensure enforcement. Courts can take action to address violations and uphold the established custody arrangements.

Grandparents’ Rights


In Quebec, grandparents may seek court-ordered visitation rights if they can demonstrate that it is in the child’s best interests. However, their rights may be secondary to those of the parents.

International Child Abduction


Quebec, being part of Canada, follows international conventions to address cases of child abduction. Legal processes are in place to handle situations where a child is wrongfully removed from or retained in the country.

Seeking Legal Counsel


Given the complexity of child custody matters, seeking the assistance of an experienced family lawyer is crucial. Legal professionals can provide guidance, represent parents in court, and ensure that their rights and the best interests of the child are protected.


Mandatory Notice before Moving


The updated Divorce Act introduces safeguards for parents, requiring advance notice when one intends to move with the children. Before relocating, the moving parent must provide written notice to the other parent who shares parenting time. This notice should include the moving date and the new address.

Upon receiving an objection, the relocating parent needs court approval before proceeding unless the other parent consents. The court assesses factors such as reason for the move and its impact on the child’s best interest. If approved, the court may outline how to share costs, ensuring the non-moving parent can still afford parenting time.



In conclusion, navigating child custody issues in Quebec requires a nuanced understanding of legal principles and a commitment to prioritizing the well-being of the child. Parents are encouraged to seek legal advice, explore amicable solutions, and engage in processes that facilitate effective co-parenting. The legal landscape is designed to uphold the best interests of the child while fostering cooperative arrangements between parents.



Frequently Asked Questions


What factors does the court consider when determining child custody in Quebec?


The court considers various factors, including the child’s best interests, each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs, and the child’s relationship with each parent.

How is parenting time decided in divorce cases in Quebec?


Parenting time is determined based on the child’s best interests, considering factors including the child’s age, needs, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and supportive environment.

What is the significance of the term “parenting time” in the updated Divorce Act?


The term “parenting time” replaces the traditional terms “custody” and “access,” emphasizing shared responsibilities and reducing conflict between parents after divorce.

What steps must a parent take before relocating with a child under the new Divorce Act rules?


Before moving, a parent must provide written notice to the other parent, including the move’s date and new address. For significant moves affecting parenting time, a “Notice of Relocation” must be submitted.

How can a parent object to the relocation of the child under the updated Divorce Act?


The non-moving parent can object to the relocation. The court then assesses the objection before approving the move.

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