1. Agree on the terms of your parenting plan

You and your partner can try to agree on , , and parenting arrangements without going to court. Decision-making responsibility and parenting time used to be called and . You can talk to your partner on your own, with the help of someone you both trust, or with the help of a lawyer or mediator.

If a judge has to make decisions about your child, they use a legal test called the . Judges usually assume it’s better for a child to have a relationship with both parents after they separate or .

If you and your partner agree on issues related to your children, you can make a . A parenting plan can be an informal arrangement between the two of you, or it can be part of your .

Your separation agreement can deal with decision-making responsibility and parenting time alone only, or can include other things like:

A parenting plan checklist can help you with the things you may have to think about. Not everything on the checklist may apply to your situation. Some of them are:

  • who can make decisions about your child’s education, religion, and non-emergency medical care
  • how information about your child is shared
  • when each of you spend time with your child
  • how conflicts are resolved, for example, or
  • who your child lives with
  • what happens if one of you wants to move to another place
  • what are your child’s childcare arrangements
  • how each of you communicate with your child while they are with the other parent, whether by telephone, email, skype, or text
  • how changes to the schedule are made
  • how holidays and other special days are spent
  • who goes with your child on school trips
  • what extra-curricular activities your child participates in and who takes them to the activity and back
  • how visits with grandparents and other extended family members take place
  • how your child’s travel and vacation plans are made
  • how often you and your partner communicate with each other and how, for example, by telephone, email, or text
  • the rules your child follows about their phone, computer time, homework, allowance, etc.

Talking to your partner may not be an option where there is a history of partner abuse.

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