Family Law... Parenting Plans

A parenting plan can be a very helpful tool in setting out custody and parenting of your children, how decisions surrounding the children will be made, and how disagreements will be resolved.

Ashley Donald – May 2018

When you and your partner separate, the first concern is always the children. Deciding on who spends what days, where, for how much time and how often can be overwhelming, stressful and time consuming if you and your former partner cannot agree on a solution.

A parenting plan can be a very helpful tool in setting out custody and parenting of your children, how decisions surrounding the children will be made, and how disagreements will be resolved. A parenting plan is a written document that sets out parenting arrangements for your children. It can be created by you alone or with your former partner, and is a way to document what you think is in the best interests of your children. It can help minimize conflict and simplify the children’s schedule. It can also be made into a court order.

Your parenting plan will depend on a variety of factors, including the ages of your children, where you and your former partner live, and your children’s activities.  Each parenting plan will be different, as each family is different! Depending on their age and maturity, it can be helpful to get each child’s input, as this may help you understand their perspective and keep in focus what is best for them.

A parenting plan may include: rules about the parenting relationship; making decisions about the children; parenting of the children including special holidays; sharing information; communication; travel; and dispute resolution.

The courts often consider the “maximum contact principle” when determining parenting after separation, which sets out that children should spend as much time as possible with each parent. There are clear exceptions to this principle, including the actual time each parent has available because of work or other commitments, the ability of each parent to be a positive role model for the children, and each parent’s ability to provide a safe and caring home. If you have concerns about your ability or the other parent’s ability to provide these things, it is important to share your concerns with your lawyer.

At MDW Law, we get to know you to help shape the best parenting plan for your family, that is a flexible and workable solution.

 Some questions you may want to consider when developing a parenting plan are:

  1. What will parenting time look like for each parent? Will you share parenting, or will one parent have primary care, while the other parent has visits with the children? What will that schedule look like?
  2. What will transitions look like? Will you pick up and drop off at each other’s homes, daycare or school or a neutral location halfway between homes?
  3. How will you communicate with your former partner about the children?
  4. Where will the children go to school? What sort of extra-curricular activities will they be involved in?
  5. How will you make emergency decisions? How will you make decisions about the children’s medical or dental care?

A parenting plan can be as detailed or flexible as you wish, and can be a great tool for both contested custody cases and amicable separations. You and your lawyer can discuss your rights and responsibilities under the parenting plan to ensure it is in the children’s best interest and that the plan is doable in practice. The needs of your children will likely change over time, and your lawyer can help you create a plan that addresses both short term and long term concerns and create procedures for updating the plan in the future.

The great thing about parent-created parenting plans is that you have input into what will work best for the children and the family as a whole. They can be as creative or simple as you want, and the possibilities are only limited by practicality. There are so many great resources and tools out there to help ease the difficulty of co-parenting, and your MDW Law lawyer can help you navigate through this process.

Examples of Shared Parenting Plan

Examples of Primary Care Parenting Plan

We can help you create any parenting arrangement that works for you, your children and your former partner.

Talk to your MDW lawyer to learn more about parenting after separation.


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