What is a Child Parenting Plan?

Family Lawyer | January 27, 2023 | Written by Crystal Arbour

If you and your partner are separating, it is crucial to understand what a child parenting plan is if you have children. That is why the family law experts at Linley Welwood have provided some information on these plans, how to make them, and how to handle potential disputes. A child parenting plan is a written agreement between two parents that outlines how they will co-parent their children after separation and divorce. A parenting plan has two main components: a parenting schedule and a method for parents to make significant decisions affecting the child. These decisions are referred to as “parental responsibilities”. The term “parenting arrangements” covers both parenting schedules and parenting responsibilities.

Both parents are generally guardians of their children by default after separation, meaning that parenting responsibilities are shared equally between each parent. This means that both parents must agree on important decisions for their children. These decisions can include the choice of school, parenting time, medical treatment concerns, and more. Parents can agree to divide parenting responsibilities so that they each have exclusive decision-making authority in certain areas, or they can agree to give one parent a tie-breaking vote should they not be able to reach an agreement on a decision.

Learn when to hire a family lawyer.

How to Make a Child Parenting Plan

There are many different tools available to help co-parents develop a parenting plan. For example, the Department of Justice Canada has a comprehensive online tool that can greatly assist with creating a plan. Regardless of the tools used, your parenting plan will need to address the following issues:

  • Decision-making responsibilities
  • Determining the primary residence
  • Parenting time/schedules
  • Change of residence (moving, relocation, etc.)
  • Activities (sporting events, music lessons, etc.)
  • Holidays and special occasions
  • Parenting exchanges (drop-off, pick-up, and where they will take place)
  • Communication with third parties (schools, daycare, etc.)
  • Conduct between parents
  • Dispute management
  • Changes to the plan over time

While it is not required to use a lawyer when creating a parenting plan, it is strongly recommended. A family lawyer can provide both parents with sound advice regarding the topics included in the child parenting plan and can provide recommendations or suggestions for certain items.

How to Navigate Disputes When Creating a Plan

Although the BC Family Law Act and Divorce Act encourage agreement between co-parents when creating child parenting plans, there are times when parents cannot reach an agreement. When co-parents disagree on a child parenting plan, they will typically need to hire a family lawyer to help them navigate the dispute and reach a resolution. Family lawyers can also provide various options including negotiation between parents, mediation with a certified family law mediator, and court applications if required. Finalizing a child parent plan enables co-parents to establish some much-needed normalcy and structure after separation, so it is crucial to take the time to create a plan that has the child’s best interests at heart while ensuring that the plan works well for both parents.

To learn more about our family law solutions or to discuss the details of your situation, get in touch with the team at Linley Welwood. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our services or your situation.

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