Following a separation, parties regularly obtain a Court order which outlines custody, access and a parenting schedule. However, with time, things inevitably change. Parents move. Children start school, or graduate from school. Parents re-partner. Parenting arrangements change, organically. Sometimes, there comes a point where there needs to be a change to the Court Order.
To change or vary a court Order, one party must file a Variation Application and the applying party has the burden of demonstrating that there has been a “material change in circumstances”, warranting the variation of the Court Order. This means that the Applicant must show that there has been a substantial change in his or her situation, the child’s situation or the other party’s situation, which materially impacts the child.
The court has found that not all changes in a child’s life are considered “material” for the purposes of varying a Court Order. The fact that a child will age, a parent may move, a new partner may appear and new siblings are born may all be reasonably contemplated at the time the first Order was issued. However, these common life changes are often considered sufficiently material for courts to rearrange parenting plans because there is evidence that the change has or will “materially affect the child”.
Whether there has been a material change in circumstances warranting a change to the Court Order will depend on the child or children involved and whether the change has materially altered the child’s needs or circumstances, or the ability of the parents to meet the children’s needs and circumstances. The success of a Variation Application is very fact specific and you should consult a family lawyer before applying to the Court. Connect with a member of our team today to schedule your free half hour consultation. To contact a member of our Family Law team call us at 902-469-9500 or 1-866-339-3400.