How to Make a Parenting Plan that Works

Unless one parent is proven to be a danger to their child, judges in Canada prefer something close to 50/50 custody and access arrangements. This isn’t possible for all families, but it is true that the children of divorce do better when they are able to have a relationship with both of their parents.

Making a parenting plan is part of the divorce settlement process. It’s important to make a good, strategic one that works for your family and which eliminates as much ambiguity as possible.

Agree on a Schedule

Consider where both parents are going to live, and how visitation will impact the child’s school schedule. It’s often easiest when both parents can live close enough to the child’s school to allow for maximum visitations without disruption. 

Many people have done the work for you by putting together 50/50 parenting time schedules. There are also software packages who can help you do it by the number of days, or can help you put together 60/40 or 70/30 schedules. 

Try to create something that won’t confuse either one of you. The clearer the schedule is, the easier it will be to follow. 

Address Common Issues

What happens if a parent needs to change the schedule due to an emergency? How will you handle holidays? Who pays for transportation if the parents live more than 100 miles apart? What are the procedures for pick up and drop off? 

If one of the parents wants to move, how much notice will they have to give the other parent and for what reasons is moving acceptable? What happens to the schedule if one of the parents wants to move?

These are all common points of contention for divorced parents. Anticipating these issues ahead of time and placing agreements in writing will help avoid arguments later. Remember, this plan will become part of your divorce settlement and can be backed by the courts if one parent can’t adhere to the agreement. It’s in your best interest to nail down as many of these issues as possible.

Your lawyer can help you identify likely trouble spots and address them in your settlement agreement. This is one excellent reason to work with an experienced family law lawyer who is aware of the issues that come up again and again. 

What Courts Want to See

If it comes down to a custody battle, courts want to see parents who have done everything in their power to act in the best interests of the child by fostering a relationship with the other parent whenever possible. By attempting to forge a co-parenting agreement first, you strengthen your future case and help your children handle the divorce better.

Of course, there are many situations in which this is neither possible nor safe. In that case, speak to your lawyer to make sure both you and your children are protected. The team at Merchant Law has helped many parents with situations like yours, and we have solutions.

Need help? Have an ex who isn’t honoring an existing parenting plan? Worried about a custody battle? Contact our offices today.

About Donald I.M. Outerbridge

Donald became the Executive Director of Merchant Law Group LLP starting in 1993, nearly 30 years ago. His experience managing law firms at various levels and in multiple provinces across Canada goes back even further to 1981.