In the recent Superior Court decision of Melbourne v Melbourne, 2022 ONSC 2299, Justice McGee was tasked with ruling on which daycare a three-year-old girl should attend as her separated parents could not agree on daycare options.

Despite agreeing to joint decision-making responsibility, the father wanted to enroll the daughter in Bright Beginnings Child Care (“Bright”) and the mother wanted to enroll the daughter in Saugeen Shores Childcare Centre (“Saugeen”). Both parents worked for the same employer at the same location. Each daycare had modern facilities, great services, language instruction, lunch programs and lots of play time. However, Bright was 10 minutes away from the parents’ place of employment in contrast to Saugeen, which was a 25-minute drive from their office. Which daycare should the daughter attend?

To evaluate the daycare options, Justice McGee examined a series of factors within the context of what would be in the child’s best interest. These factors included:

  • The proximity to the parents’ workplace to the daycare to enable the parents to get to the daycare faster if the child was injured or became sick;
  • The ability to pick up the child earlier because of location;
  • The parents’ ability to spend some time with their child at the daycare, if they left work a little earlier;
  • The total travel time between the daycare and each parent’s home;
  • The cost of the daycare and
  • The enhanced language program offerings at the daycare.

Based on this analysis, Justice McGee choose Bright. In making the decision, Justice McGee was clear that the daycare decision would not predetermine the eventual school placement decision.

As Melbourne v Melbourne has yet to be cited by other cases on the daycare issue, it is too soon to know if the same factors will become the default test for determining the best interest of the child in daycare disputes moving forward. However, in the meantime, the principles discussed in this case about finding ways to optimize parenting time should be incorporated into parenting plans. Whether it means less transit time to/from daycare or school or fewer transitions between parents, finding ways to maximize the time each parent spends with their child is in the best interest of the child.

If you and your co-parent are contemplating separation or are separated and are having issues with decision-making for your child(ren), including daycare decisions, our experienced Family Law lawyers can assist you and your family in coming to a resolution that aligns with the best interests of your child(ren). To learn more about how we may assist you and to book a consultation, contact us online or by telephone at (416) 863-0125.

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