6 Tips For Succeeding With A Parenting Plan

Parenting while separated or divorced presents its own unique difficulties in addition to the many considerations of how to properly raise your child. There is no secret key to success. As experienced divorce and family lawyers, we have however noted a number of positive steps you can take to minimise the disruption to your child’s life.

Here are 6 tips you can follow to facilitate your child’s access visit and to protect your position should the parenting arrangement not be followed by one of the parents.

(1.) Keep an Access Log

By keeping track of access in such a manner, the parent is able to detail any difficulties that arise with the parenting plan in place. If there are frequent problems and a log is not kept, it becomes very difficult to properly account to a lawyer or to the court evidence about access issues.

There are online resources that a parent can use to keep a log, or the parent can simply use a pad of paper and diarize the log by hand. The following chart is sample access log that can be referred to when creating your own.  

Tiffany’s Access Log
DatePick-up TimeDrop-Off TimeActivities during AccessAny Complications
16-Sep-205:00pm10:00pmBowlingNone
20-Sep-205:00pm10:00pmHad dinner at home and helped with homeworkNone
25-Sep-201:00pm10:00pmHelped with homework, went to a parkPicked-up 1 hour late

(2.) Maintain a civil line of communication

While this can be difficult in acrimonious separations, keeping an amicable line of communication between the parents is more likely to lead to a successful childcare arrangement and a better experience for the child.

Having honest, regular conversations about the child and what is best for them allows the Parents to understand if a certain access schedule is working or not for the child. If parents are able to speak freely about success and failures when it comes to child rearing, the parenting plan and decision-making arrangement can be adjusted to better suit the needs of the child.

(3.) Prepare a checklist of items the child needs to bring on access visits

Having a checklist of items a child needs to take on access visits, gives the parents and child a sense of structure to their arrangement. This also has the benefit of reducing the risk of error or misunderstanding in respect of personal belongings not being kept with the custodial parent or where items are not being provided to the child by the visiting parent.  

(4.) Make sure the child has their own place in your home

If you are the visiting parent and your parenting arrangement/court order allows for the child to attend your home, making sure your child has their own place in your home (even if it is just part of a room) can help the child feel more connected to that property. It has the potential benefit of strengthening a visiting parent’s relationship with their child.

(5.) Use technology to maintain access

Despite the social distancing measures that are in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Court expects you to follow any existing orders or agreements about access. If you do not have a court order or agreement, you are expected to follow your child’s normal routine.

If either parent needs to quarantine themselves as they have either come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or recently returned to Canada from abroad, access should still be facilitated virtually where possible. Using Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, telephone calls or even emails can help preserve continuity for the child during this difficult time.

(6.) Accept that visitation schedules will likely change as children age

As children age, their needs also change. Even if the parents have obtained a court-ordered parenting arrangement or have set it out in writing in their separation agreement, both parties should accept from the outset that the arrangement should adapt to the changing needs of the child as they grow older. Accepting this reality from the start and discussing changes openly with your former partner can reduce future tensions when unexpected events do occur which require last-minute changes to access visits.

As experienced family and divorce lawyers, we can help you plan a custody and access arrangement which supports your child’s needs and maintains an appropriate level of contact for both parents with your child. Or in cases, where contact by the other parent is not appropriate, we can help you protect your child’s best interests in bringing such a matter to the Court’s attention. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with us.

You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or you can contact us through our website here.

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