Contact: Spending time with a child if you're not a guardian

People who aren't guardians:

  • don't have parental responsibilities, and
  • don't make decisions about a child's life.

But even if a parent isn't a guardian, the law recognizes a child's right to have a relationship with that parent whenever possible. BC's Family Law Act calls this contact with a child.

Other people who're important to your child can also get contact with them. For example:

  • grandparents
  • step-parents
  • aunts and uncles

To do this:

  • the child's guardian can sort out contact with the non-guardian themselves, or
  • the non-guardian can apply to court for an order for contact with the child.

If you're worried about your child's well-being when they spend time with someone who has contact, you can apply to court for:

  • Conditions on contact (or parenting time): the court sets out the things the person with contact has to do if they want to have contact with the child. For example:
    • they mustn't use drugs or alcohol while they're with the child,
    • they mustn't use drugs or alcohol for 24 hours before contact with the child,
    • they mustn't take the child out of their home community, or
    • they can't have the child stay overnight.
  • Supervised time: the person with contact has to have someone with them when they visit the child. Before you go to court to apply for this, find out if a friend or family member would supervise visits. You can also use a professional supervisor, if you prefer.
  • Specific times: the person with contact can spend time with the child only at certain times.
  • Specific place: the person with contact has to stay in a certain area when they're with the child.

Sometimes the judge won't let a non-guardian parent or other person applying for contact spend any time with the child. If this happens to you and you think it's unfair, get some legal advice.