Parenting time right of first refusal; court find disruptive to children when parent only away for short time – Family Law

Hannaford v. Hannaford, 2016 BCSC 398

One issue dealt with in this decision was whether a “right of first refusal” (regarding parenting time) adopted by the parties first in Minutes of Settlement, and later incorporated into a consent order remained appropriate.

The “right of first refusal” required that if one parent was unable to care for the children for a period of at least four hours during their parenting time they must offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the children during that period. At the time of this decision the children were 15, 13, and 9 years old.

The father argued that the “right of first refusal” was impairing his ability to normally parent the children when combined with his work schedule and required commuting time. The mother maintained that it was best for the children if they were with her while the father was not available. A section 211 report prepared by a psychologist recommended that the “right of first refusal” be abandoned. There was no concern about whether the children would be adequately cared for in the absence of the father.

Justice Gray found that requiring the “right of first refusal” after only four hours was disruptive to the children under the circumstances decided that the period for invoking it should be extended from four hours to twenty-four hours. How this number was arrived at was not explained.