The TLC of Shared Parenting: Time, Language and Cash

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Shared Parenting, Child Support Guidelines, Economic Incentives, Case Law, Contino, Supreme Court of Canada


"Tender loving care" comes to mind when we think of parenting. And the concept of "care" does infuse any article on shared parenting. But that's not the "TLC" here. My article will focus on the "time, language and cash" of shared parenting. It is impossible to talk about shared parenting without talking about time and money and, it turns out, even our language of shared parenting is confused and confusing. Language actually comes first here, so it's really the "LTC" of shared parenting, but that's not so snappy a title.

There are a number of themes I want to develop here. First, we can encourage of discourage shared parenting by legislation, or we can just "nudge" shared parenting through education and incentives. Some of these economic incentives and disincentives are not well-understood at present. Second, the language of "time" in section 9 of the Child Support Guidelines has come to dominate our understanding of "shared custody/shared parenting," even in non-child-support settings. How did that happen? Third, section 9 ushered in a new child support regime and we have all struggled with its interpretation since 1997. Those struggles did not end after the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Contino. Living with Contino has not proved easy for anyone, given its broadly discretionary approach. Fourth, shared custody also raises some difficult issues in the law of spousal support, testing our understanding of compensatory support.