If you are thinking about separation or have recently separated from your partner, you may be concerned about parenting arrangements for your children.

There are three main terms that you should know. Familiarizing yourself with these terms will be helpful whether you decide to retain a family law lawyer or proceed on your own.


If you and your partner lived together with your children prior to separation, you are both guardians. Only guardians can make or have parenting arrangements. Parenting arrangements generally consist of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

If your partner is not the natural parent of your children, he or she is not a guardian.

Parental Responsibilities

Parental responsibilities include making decisions about where your children live and go to school. For a complete list of parental responsibilities, please use the link below:


If you and your partner are guardians of your children, you are both entitled to exercise all parental responsibilities. The expectation is that you will make decisions together.

Parenting Time

The time you have with your children is called parenting time. When discussing possible parenting time schedules, you may encounter the following terms:

  1. Primary residence – this is when your children live primarily with you or your partner.
  1. Shared parenting time – this is when your children live with both you and your partner on an almost equal basis.

If your partner is not the natural parent of your children, he or she may spend time with them by agreement or court order. This is called contact time.

At Hart Legal, we understand how challenging it can be to make parenting arrangements for your children in the midst of separation. We are here to help. We offer free initial consultations at all of our locations, including, Victoria, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, BC, Calgary, AB, Toronto, ON, and California, USA.