Parenting Plans – an Essential Document for Separating Parents

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When parents separate, figuring out "co-parenting" is often the most difficult and important consideration. In most cases, both parents want what is best for their kids, but they often have different ideas about what that looks like.

Consider this example:

Jill and James have been separated for 3 years, they share parenting time with their kids “50-50” and so far, they have been able to work out all their scheduling issues amicably. Last year, Jill started dating Ken, and this summer she wants to take the kids on vacation with him to Ontario. “Whoa” says James, “I don’t agree to that, I think Ken is sleazy and I don’t trust him around my kids, there is no way I will give permission for them to go anywhere with that jerk!”

James and Jill are stuck, angry, and do not have any guidelines to help them navigate through this new territory. If only they had a parenting plan!

A parenting plan is essentially a very detailed custody agreement. It includes things like regular schedules for care, but it can also help parents turn their mind to issues that may come up in the future like the one James and Jill are facing. Parenting plans also address:

·       Relationships with extended family

·       Education, religion and medical care

·       Holidays, birthdays and special occasions

·       Passports and travel arrangements

·       Communication and problem solving between parents

·       Shared parenting values

·       Extra curricular activities

·       Special needs of children

 James and Jill will have to resolve this issue, but now they are both hurt and angry, and their kids are stuck in the middle. It would have been easier to resolve this issue if they discussed it and made a plan when they were still getting along. It is always easier to negotiate successfully when you are getting along and do not have the stress of dealing with an active conflict.

For more information about how to create a parenting plan you can visit here for a checklist of things to consider and here for a comprehensive guide to parenting plans.

If you're having an issue related to this topic we'd be happy to help.  You can call us at (902) 826-3070 to set up a meeting or contact us online.  You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.

Peter G. Duke - Associate Lawyer

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