Child Custody and Parenting Plans
The Parenting Plan
- It is a plan for how you and the other parent will continue to care for and raise your child after you separate.
- The parenting plan should include a custody and access schedule that shows when each parent spends time with the child.
- A Parenting Plan sets out specific arrangements for the physical care of children, such as where children will sleep on a weekly basis, how children will spend holidays, child spendings which parent is entitled to make major decisions for the children, how they will communicate with each other, how the children will maintain connections with extended family…etc.
- Each parent assumes total responsibility for the children during the time that they are in their care.
- In this way, parenting plans are intended to promote the best interests of the children because they help avoid parental disputes relating to the physical care of children and decision-making.
- Parents have been encouraged to agree to detailed parenting plans whether they have joint custody arrangements, or one has custody and the other has access.
- Parents can try to agree on custody and access on their own and do not require a lawyer to make a parenting plan. However, it is a good idea for each parent to obtain legal advice before signing one. They cannot get advice from the same lawyer.
- It must be signed by both parents and a witness.
- Once signed, both parents must follow the parenting plan unless they agree to change it, or a judge decides that there is a good reason to change it.
- Parents who cannot agree on a parenting plan can get help from a lawyer, mediator, or arbitrator. They may go to court and ask a judge to decide and enforce it through a court order.
- Parenting plans are also negotiated in situations of Parallel Parenting, where there is high conflict between the parties who are unable to communicate effectively, but they still have a desire for joint custody. The plan sets out their rights and responsibilities without requiring them to cooperate with one another.
A system of communication is developed such as email exchange or parenting book so the parties do not have to interact with one another.
Bill C-78: An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act.
The Bill received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The amendments were slated to come into force on July 1, 2020, but have been pushed to March 1, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under Bill C-78, courts are required to include in an order any parenting plan that is submitted by the parties. This means that parties will be under obligation to negotiate parenting plans.
Divorce Act 16(3): Factors to be considered in the best interests of the child:(g) Any plans for the child’s care.
Clause 12 of the Bill replaces the existing section 16 of the Divorce Act which sets out provisions relating to custody and access. The new provisions address such matters as the best interests of the child, parenting plans, and relocation.
Clause 18.104.22.168 Parenting Plans
- The existing Divorce Act stipulates that parenting plans may be included in an order, but no specific reference is made to their use.
- Bill C-78 gives a prominent role to parenting plans, which encourage parties to reflect on issues on which they may disagree and attempt to find a solution before conflict arises.
The New section 16.6(1)
- In section 16.6(1), the Divorce Act stipulates that a court must include any parenting plan submitted by the parties in a parenting order or a contact order unless it is not in the best interests of the child to do so. If the court believes that the parenting plan is not in the best interests of the child, it may amend it in a manner it sees fit.
- The rationale behind the change is that parents are generally in the best position to decide what type of parenting arrangement would be best for their child’s lives. If the parties can agree about some or all of the arrangements, the court should accept the agreement.
For more information on the changes in Bill C-78, please visit the link here.
For more information on Parenting Plans, please look through the booklet linked below:
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.
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