Parenting Plans -The New Reality in Manitoba

Why do I need a Parenting Plan?

Family Law has undergone recent changes in Manitoba, one of the most important of which is the requirement of a Parenting Plan . In finalizing their separations or divorces, parents are now required to prepare a parenting plan.

That Parenting Agreement will provide the framework for fill_your dealings with the other parent about the children.


What does a Parenting Plan Consist of?

A parenting plan requires that the best interests of the children be taken into account.

It should include :

  • what time the children will spend with each parent ,
  • how will each parent communicate with each other and consult each other on the children,
  • how will decisions be made,
  • If the parents cannot agree, how will disputes be settled,
  • Travel/ Vacations;
  • Moving and Relocating .


There are those cases where it is simply not safe for a parent to see the child unsupervised or even to have contact with the child.

Apart from those exceptions a comprehensive schedule of children spending time with each of their parents is ideal for a variety of reasons. Children should maintain a loving relationship with both parents and have dedicated time with each.

Depending on the circumstances, that designated time will require a detailed or flexible schedule, but regardless having some sort of schedule in writing will avoid confusion in the future.


Sharing Information and Communicating About the Children

The parents will need to be able to communicate with each other about the children. Parents may not want to speak to each other at all, but out of necessity must for the children’s sake. So, working out the “ground rules” on communication (the how, when and why) will be important to maintain peace, and focus on the children’s needs.


Appointments and Practical Arrangements for the Children

In the course of various appointments children will have growing up, there will be impo1iant information/ documents that the parents shared with the parent who has the child at the time of the appointment. A good parenting plan will consider how appointments are to be maintained, with the involvement of both parents .


Travel/ Vacations

Parents often want to take the children for vacations during the year and having both sides agree in writing over how passports and forms of travelling with children will occur will create much peace of mind for the parents and children. Travelling should be about positive experiences, not focusing on legal dilemmas of custody and authorization.


Moving/ Relocating

People frequently move residences over the course of their life due to a number of reasons. Depending on whether a parent is moving locally or outside of their city / town, it is a good idea to put in place regulations that parents must follow before they move/ relocate as one parent moving often creates a large change in the children’s lives. With new amendments to the Divorce Act , it will be mandatory , to consider appropriate notice of any proposed relocations which will affect the child’s time with each parent.


Dispute Resolution

Even the best of parents often cannot agree on everything, and so having in place some mechanism that parents can turn to in the face of disagreements, regarding the parenting arrangements of the children, will be helpful to avoid negative arguments and lead to more positive results.


Tailoring your parenting plan

Each parent and each child is unique. Each separation and divorce is unique. No two parenting plans are identical , just as no two children are identical.



Who is a Parenting Coach?

A parenting coach is someone who helps you in the formulating of a Parenting Plan that makes sense for you and your children..

The coach should get a comprehensive view of family dynamics, to not only identify weaknesses , but also strengths . The parenting coach can work with you to identify alternative parenting approaches to better meet the needs of children through the family’s hardships.

A parenting coach can be an individual who has gone through the appropriate training to be qualified as such, or they can be a part of a social service organization, or they can be a professional with high level of training in the realm of families and children.


Why Should I Consult a Parenting Coach for my Parenting Plan?

Creating a comprehensive plan that covers all sorts of issues that could arise during the course of a child’s life post-divorce/ separation is a difficult task to do. The parenting coach assists the client and the lawyer to identify important issues to achieve the best results for client and child.


Merchant Law Group’s Parenting Coach

Our Parenting Coach is a Registered Social Worker, with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has worked with many families to identify and resolve family dynamics.

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.