Parenting Agreements: What you need to know

When a couple divorces or separates, it not only affects how much time children may spend with each parent, but can also affect how much time is spend with grand-parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and close family friends on both sides.

In these situations, it’s best to develop a parenting plan with your former spouse for how to address issues of visitation or special occasions with extended family.

A parenting plan is an agreement between two parents on how to raise their child after they divorce or separate. In many cases, a former spouse may still be present in your life as it pertains to the upbringing of your child. It’s best to create a plan on how to manage this communication as your child grows older.

As outlined on the Government of Canada website, there are several different factors that can go into a parenting plan. What’s important to note is that parents don’t necessarily have to have every detail ironed out.

In cases where there are grey areas or no final decision on a matter (ex. if parents disagree about the age for dating, but that is a long way off) parents can outline a plan on how to approach grey areas or future discussions for when they do come up in the future.

One example of future plans is visiting with extended family. You may not be able to predict when a family member may be hosting a special event, like a significant birthday, wedding or a family reunion or family vacation. Or, for example, how will parents decide where their child will go if there are two family functions on the same weekend?

Travel arrangements may also factor into the equation as well. If each parent gets to spend one summer month with the child, how will they communicate if they want to travel with their child across borders? How much notice should be given to each parent? Does written consent need to be provided before flights are booked?

In order to answer these questions, its best advised to consult with an experienced family lawyer. If you’re unsure how to best allow your child to develop meaningful relationships with extended family, a family lawyer can help you identify strategies that suit your unique family dynamic.

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