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Having a detailed parenting plan has a huge impact on your future co-parenting relationship and your children’s lives. A parenting plan is useful because it prepares you and your ex-partner for future disagreements.

A parenting plan must be clear and detailed. It must outline any potential points of conflict between you and your ex. Avoiding conflicts is important and can keep everyone out of court in the future.

Below are important points to remember when writing out your parenting plan. Although it’s smart to include these points, remember that your plans must address unique issues that may affect your child’s needs.

The Importance of a Parenting Plan

A detailed parenting plan limits your risk of future litigation and conflict. It also gives you something to fall back on, should the relationship with your co-parent change in the future.  

The document can also function as a great default during times when you and your ex cannot agree on something. With a parenting plan, you can settle disputes faster and spend more time focusing on your children.

A parenting plan also has a positive effect on kids. Exposure to destructive conflict is harmful to children. Since a parenting plan can lessen arguments, this can be beneficial to your child’s mental health.

These are the reasons why you should have a parenting plan when you’re in the middle of a divorce or separation.

Parenting Plan Guidelines

In Canada, parenting orders include the submission of a parenting plan. Courts are allowed to make any changes to the plan and include it in the order.

A parenting plan should address the needs of your children. When writing it, you should consider the age of your children and how the plan can change as your children grow older.

This article outlines all the common factors to include when writing your parenting plan.

What Are Included in the Parenting Plan

Below is a list of factors that you can use as a starting point to help guide your discussions. Remember that some items in the list may not apply to your situation. 


You should include in your parenting plan all information that all parties need to communicate. These may include medical information, new partners, or travel plans.

Family violence

Before submitting your parenting plan, make sure to include information that could impact your children’s safety. 

Ask yourself if you’re worried about your children’s safety or your own safety with your ex-partner. Take note if you have safety concerns about the other parent’s ability to keep your child safe.

Parenting time arrangements

Include information about parenting time arrangements. Specify where your child will live and how much time they’ll spend with both parents.

You should also include information about transportation. Take note of who will transport your child when traveling and who will pay for transportation.

Other things to specify include childcare or babysitting, social gatherings, and your child’s belongings.

Siblings, grandparents, and extended family

Discuss how you and your ex can support your child’s sibling and extended family relationships. Specify if each parent will be responsible for maintaining relationships with their side of the family while the children are with them.

Vacations, holidays, and special days

Specify who will care for the children during vacations, school breaks, and holidays. You should also include where your child will spend special days, like birthdays or other family events such as weddings, graduations, and funerals.


Discuss how you and your co-parent will notify each other about travel plans. Take note of how far in advance you should inform each other.

You should also discuss medical considerations for travel. This can be about required immunizations or vaccines for travel.


You must include information about your child’s education. Discuss how you’ll make decisions about school choices or programs.

You should also discuss who’ll pay for education-related bills, like tutoring. Discuss who’ll be attending parent-teacher conferences.

Extra-curricular activities

Talk about who will make decisions about extracurricular activities. You should also specify who will pay and transport the kids for these activities? 

Discuss how you’ll make decisions about events that require parent’s participation or attendance.

Religion, culture, and indigenous heritage

You and your co-parent should discuss how you’ll make decisions about your children’s religious upbringing.

If applicable to your case, you should also address issues related to indigenous heritage in the parenting plan.

Health care

In the parenting plan, you should include how you’ll make decisions about your child’s medical care. Discuss who will make decisions about preventative treatments. Including vaccinations.

You should also discuss decisions about medical insurance for your children? Talk about who will submit claims and who will pay extra costs?

Children with special needs

If you have children with special needs, you need to include considerations like special testings or assessments in your parenting plan. Decide whether your child with special needs can go between two homes or will just stay in one home.


You should also discuss how to handle potential moves. Talk about how you’ll deal with parenting arrangements that may be affected by the relocation.

New partners and blended families

Discuss how you’ll introduce new partners and their children to your kids. Talk about how time will be spent with new partners and half-siblings.

Parents whose work requires long absences (military parents, diplomats, international aid workers, etc.)

You should include in your parenting plan information about how your child can communicate with a parent who is away for a long period. Discuss if kids can visit temporary work locations and other living arrangements.

Mental health/substance abuse

You need to address potential parenting concerns if you or your co=parent have mental health or substance abuse issues. If needed, discuss alternative parenting arrangements, including supervised parenting time or limited parenting time.

Dealing with conflict

Talk about how you and your co-parent will handle future disagreements. Consider the help of a mediator, lawyer, or other family justice professional. 


Tips on How You Can Help Children Deal with Separation or Divorce

Empathize When your children are upset about your divorce, try to empathize with their distress. This allows you to see the issue from their perspective. 

This can make your child feel validated, even when things don’t go their way.

Spend time with your child Spending a couple of spontaneous moments with your child can strengthen your relationship. You can alternate between doing things that you want and things that your child enjoys doing.

Doing this presents a great opportunity for you to be fully present with them. This doesn’t only benefit your child, but may also do wonders for your mental health.

Encourage them to play You can encourage all types of playing to help your child cope during stressful times. 

Playing can help children work off steam and can help them learn. If your child is older, you can encourage them to play with their friends.

Seek the help of expert family law lawyers from Gelman & Associates if you and your partner can’t find the middle ground in your parenting plan.


Pro Tip

Take extra care of your children when you’re in the middle of separation or divorce with your partner. Call Gelman and Associates today and we can support your co-parenting efforts by providing sound legal advice.



Changes in Parenting Plan

As your child grows older, their needs and interests will change. This means that your parenting plan may need to be updated to ensure that it’s still in line with your child’s wants and needs.

Before making changes to your parenting plan, you first need to consult your separation agreement. This way, you will know the proper legal actions to take before you make any changes.

Changing your parenting plan also allows you to change the old agreements decided on the document. You and your ex-partner may have new things to add or remove.

A child parenting plan is important to have when you’re in the middle of a divorce or separation. It can help you settle conflicts faster or avoid them altogether.

A detailed parenting plan enables you to spend more time with your children, which is important to help them cope during difficult times.

It can help you and your ex-partner find success in your co-parenting efforts. Co-parenting can be challenging, but a parenting plan can help make the process easier. 

You may also seek professional help if you and your ex find yourselves struggling to come to an agreement. You can tap legal advisers, counselors, or parenting coaches to help out.

If you’re looking for legal advice about your parenting plan, call Gelman & Associates today. Our team of family law lawyers can help you identify the best legal options for you and your child.

Parenting Plan FAQs

Parenting Plan FAQs

If a parenting plan is included in your court order under the Divorce Act, the document will be legally binding.

An unfit parent is someone who cannot provide proper care, guidance, or support to their child. A parent is also deemed unfit if there’s proven evidence of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse issues.

A parenting order is an order outlining important details about parenting arrangements. This is issued by the court. 

Meanwhile, a parenting plan points out how co-parents will care for and make important decisions about their children. You and your co-parent will create a parenting plan and then submit the document to the court.

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