FAMILY LAW SETTLEMENTS & PARENTING PLANS
A parenting plan which can exist within a full separation agreement or on its own, is a written agreement between parents post-separation detailing the particular ways in which each parent will care for and continue to raise their children. A well drafted parenting plan anticipates both, the current and future needs of the children and can also help to reduce conflict between parents by setting out clear guidelines and expectations. Reducing conflict is important. Research shows that children’s chances of coping successfully with their parents’ separation or divorce are better if their parents cooperate with each other. A parenting plan should have enough detail to be useful, yet sufficient flexibility to be realistic.
Your parenting plan is a document that will affect both you and your children for years. It is therefore important not to rush through the process. It is a good idea to seek independent legal advice about your parenting plan. Our very experienced lawyers at Gottlieb Law Firm can help you draft a detailed parenting plan that could help prevent any future ambiguities with respect to the care and upbringing of your children.
The following checklist can help identify issues to consider when developing a parenting plan. There may be some issues in the checklist that do not apply to your situation and there may be others that are unique to your situation.
Typically, the following issues should be considered when drafting a parenting plan:
Living arrangements and parenting schedules:
- Residential arrangements – what will be the child(ren)’s primary residence?
- Will the parents live within a certain distance of each other?
- Drop-off and pick-up details;
- Work schedules;
Vacation, holidays and special events:
- Arrangements for holidays including school holidays, statutory holidays, religious holidays; will holidays alternate between parents?
- Arrangements for other special days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and events such as birthdays, weddings, graduations etc.
- How will decisions be made about medical or dental treatment?
- Emergency medical treatments; how will parents notify each other?
- Access to medical records;
- Who will obtain medical insurance for the child(ren)? Who will pay any extra costs?
- What approaches will be used to meet the child’s physical, emotional and psychological needs?
Children with special needs:
- Decisions about any testing or assessments, such as assessments for special accommodations in school, psychological or psycho-educational testing; how will costs be apportioned between both parents?
- Decisions about any treatment required;
- Arrangements for any supplies of medication or equipment such as assistive devices and mobility equipment, and whether these should be available in both homes
- How will decisions about any change in school, special educational needs will be made?
- How will school records be accessed?
- School trips; the signing of permission forms, payment for trips etc.
- How many and what type of extra-curricular activities would the child(ren) be engaged in?
- Whether one parent can schedule activities during the child’s time with the other parent? Who will pay? Who will transport your child to and from activities?
- How will decisions about religious upbringing and activities will be made?
Grandparents and extended family:
- How often and when will visits with extended family take place? Who will be in attendance at these visits?
- How and when will children communicate with their extended family?
- Will notice of travel be given to the other parent? Should notice be given for all travel or just travel that is out of the province? What type of information is to be shared including flight and contact information;
- Written consent for child to travel out of the country may be required;
- Who will keep the child’s passport?
Communications between parents:
- Method of communication to be used (example, e-mail, text message, telephone or internet tools);
- Frequency of communication;
- Type of information to be communicated (such as, medical information, change of address, travel information);
- Communication in the event of an emergency;
Making changes to parenting plans:
- What process would be used to make any changes to the parenting schedule or other parts of the parenting plan?
Resolving future disagreements:
- What methods would be used to resolve any future disagreements over the parenting plan – mediation, arbitration, collaborative family law?
- Which parent is to pay for these services?
The right of first refusal:
- If a parent cannot care for the children during their ordinary parenting time, then they must ask the other parent if they can provide child care before asking another individual to care for the child(ren).
- Are any limits to be placed on the right of first refusal?
Parenting plans can be complex to negotiate when parents are at odds. When on the same page, they can be simpler to manage. Often mediation can help. At Gottlieb Law Firm we negotiate and mediate. Our expertise utilized to steer parties in the right direction toward solution. When parents can’t agree we are well suited to litigate the issues. Whichever avenue you choose, Gottlieb Law Firm has the expertise to handle it.