What is a Parenting Plan? What are the key topics to address include?
A Parenting Plan clarifies how parents will share the caretaking responsibilities, communicate when making significant decisions, and how the children will spend time with each of them. The Plan is a roadmap for moving forward, reducing conflict, and reassuring children that they will be well cared for.
- A Parenting Plan is an important requirement for couples with school-age children.
- It reduces conflict, offers predictability, and you can design a plan that works well for your children and both parents.
- Creating a Parenting Plan takes some effort, but your preparation will save considerable time, money, and personal stress.
- These are the important items to consider. Our website provides easy access to the Family Law Portal, a FREE online resource that can help you prepare.
- Significant Decisions: How will you and your partner make major decisions for your children, including, education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities?
- Healthcare: How will the children’s healthcare needs be met? Who will arrange and take the children to health care appointments? Who will take time off work if a child is ill? Will you agree to share the children’s health information with the other partner?
- If you have a healthcare plan, will you keep it to cover the children?
- Parenting Schedule: How will the children spend summer, winter, and other school breaks? Major civic and faith-based holidays?
- How will your children spend time with each partner on a regular weekly schedule? What is reasonable for both parents’ work schedules and for the children?
- Transportation: How will the children get to and from their school and extracurricular activities?
- How will they get to and from other activities, such as birthday parties and other visits?
- Communication: What is the best and most respectful way to communicate about your children’s needs, for example, if a child becomes ill or you want to share educational information or you want to request an adjustment to the schedule for a special event? It is best to think about communicating when the child is not present.
- Dispute Resolution: How will you resolve differences of opinion about significant issues? Or deal with changes in circumstances? For example, if a parent moves, what notice would be reasonable if the move meant a change in the regular parenting schedule?
- Shopping: Who will purchase day-to-day children’s items, such as clothing, supplies, etcetera? How will expensive items be shared, such as sporting or musical equipment? Do these items belong to the child, and can they accompany the child in both homes?
- Travel: How will you notify the other parent about travel out of the province or country? Out of country travel requires an exchange of special documents to confirm consent. Who will keep documents such as passports and health cards?
- New Partners: Often, a very sensitive issue: How and when will new Partners be introduced to the children, taking into consideration their age and readiness?
- Children are very loyal to their parents and need some time to adjust to the many changes in their lives. Allowing them time to settle before introducing new partners is usually important to encourage acceptance of the new relationship.