What is a “Parenting Plan”?

Parents’ separation can be very difficult for children. One way that parents can help to make the transition as smooth as possible for their kids is to develop a clear plan for how they will work together as co-parents. This will ensure the most possible stability for children during a difficult time.

A “Parenting Plan” is a document that outlines how you and your partner will take care of your children after separation or divorce. It can cover all relevant areas of care and practical arrangements that may be required.

Some of the things that you and your spouse should consider when drafting your parenting plan are:

– Living arrangements for the children
– Schedule for time spent with each parent
– Routines for holidays and special occasions
– Expectations for parental involvement in extra-curricular activities
– Financial responsibilities
– Healthcare and education decisions
– Religious and cultural concerns
– Guidelines for travel with the children
– Consideration of how to handle a situation where a parent wishes to move the children’s residence
– Guidelines for communication between parents and/or with the children
– How any special needs of the children will be met
– How to make changes to the parenting plan in the future

A parenting plan should be tailored to fit your specific family situation, and a mediator is a great resource to help you draft one that will be workable and in your child’s best interests. The parenting plan should be reviewed by each spouse’s own lawyer before it is incorporated into a Separation Agreement or Court Order, since he or she can advise you about your legal rights and responsibilities.

Fortunately, there are many tools available to help you make a practical parenting plan.

The Government of Canada has put together a guide on parenting after separation and divorce, and has listed many relevant issues to consider. It has also released a very helpful guide of sample phrases and wording to help you when constructing your own parenting plan.

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