There are recent changes in Divorce Act and Children’s Law Reform Act. Amended section 16(6) of the Divorce Act, states that “In allocating parenting time, the court shall give effect to the principle that a child should have as much time with each spouse as is consistent with the best interests of the child.” The previous iteration of this clause of the Divorce Act contained the same wording but also included the heading, “Maximum Contact”.
Supreme Court of Canada has explained this principle in the followings:
What is known as the maximum contact principle has traditionally emphasized that children shall have as much contact with each parent as is consistent with their best interests. A corollary to this is sometimes referred to as the “friendly parent rule”, which instructs courts to consider the willingness of a parent to foster and support the child’s relationship with the other parent, where appropriate: see Young, at p. 44. Both of these considerations have long been recognized by the Divorce Act.
It is worth repeating that what is known as the maximum contact principle is only significant to the extent that it is in the child’s best interests; it must not be used to detract from this inquiry. It is notable that the amended Divorce Act recasts the “maximum contact principle” as “[p]arenting time consistent with best interests of child”: s. 16(6). This shift in language is more neutral and affirms the child-centric nature of the inquiry. Indeed, going forward, the “maximum contact principle” is better referred to as the “parenting time factor”.