We are open in our 8 offices to serve your needs

Establishing a parenting plan can help you avoid conflict and go the extra mile for your child after a separation or divorce. You and your partner may use a parenting plan to determine more exact details regarding timing, location, and contact than a typical decision-making responsibility or parenting time agreement may provide.

We spoke with family law lawyer Negin Sari from Gelman & Associates about establishing a parenting plan following a separation or divorce. Whether you are actively in the process of separating or wish to renegotiate later down the road, these 10 important subjects may be helpful to consider. 

1. Decision-Making Responsibility (Custody)

Decision-making responsibility (formerly custody) determines which parent has the authority to make decisions for a child, and what they can make decisions about. Canadian legislation stipulates that decision-making responsibility can extend to things like education, medical care, religious upbringing, extracurriculars, and more.

In the case that one parent obtains sole decision-making responsibility, they will have exclusive authority over important decisions for the child. If joint decision-making responsibility is ordered, parents may make decisions together or may split up specific responsibilities amongst themselves. In some cases of joint decision-making responsibility, one parent may be given a final say power in the event that opinions conflict.

Whatever you decide, your parenting plan should include a thorough description of who holds decision-making responsibility or how it has been divided. If you would like assistance working out the details of decision-making responsibility, schedule a consultation with our family law lawyers at Gelman & Associates today.

2. Where Will the Child Live Primarily?

Your parenting plan should also include a detailed overview of what your child’s living situation will look like. In some cases, a child will reside with one parent full-time. If so, it may be helpful to clearly articulate when other parents will have opportunities to see the child. If your child is going to divide their time between multiple parents, your parenting plan should include a clear, detailed schedule of where the child is expected to live on days of the week or month.

3. Putting a Parenting Schedule in Place

Not only should a parenting plan lay out your child’s primary living schedule, but it should also detail how your child will divide their time during holidays or significant occasions. If you celebrate Christmas, will the child split the day between both parents? Or will one parent have access on December 24th while the other has access on December 25th? Who will spend time with the child on their birthday, and for how long?

The more detail you can include about the child’s schedule in your parenting plan, the more straightforward co-parenting can become. Regardless of the arrangement you and your partner agree to, it is important to detail all your decisions in writing and avoid ambiguities.

4. Transportation To and From Parenting Time

Once a parenting schedule is established, it is also important to decide on corresponding transportation arrangements. Your parenting plan should include particulars about who is responsible for dropping off and picking up the child from scheduled parenting time and when they are expected to do so. Transportation can be arranged in any manner the parents see fit, so long as it is established in writing.

5. Communication With the Other Parent

Communicating with your child’s other parent is important for their safety and well-being. However, your communication with a co-parent may differ depending on your relationship. If you are amicable, regular phone calls, texts, or emails may be sufficient for correspondence.

In cases where partners are dealing with opposing parties or domestic violence, it may be best to limit direct, unsupervised contact. Apps and other programs exist that monitor and record communication so that it may be transcribed in court if necessary. This method allows you to talk about your child while also preventing conflict, intimidation, or untoward behaviour. Whatever you decide, be sure to clearly include the conditions of your communication in your parenting plan.

6. Travel Arrangements

A parenting plan might detail what kinds of travel out of a city or country of residence are appropriate for a child to undertake. These conditions might include:

  • How far a child may travel
  • How long a child may travel for
  • Who the child is allowed to travel with
  • Whether a certain amount of notice must be given before a parent intends to travel with the child
  • Whether the parent must provide contact, flight, or accommodation information once they have travelled with the child
  • And more

By including these conditions in a parenting plan and following them, both parents can be assured of their child’s safety and whereabouts at all times.

7. Government-issued Documentation

Deciding who has the authority to apply for, sign for, and manage a child’s government-issued documentation can be outlined in your parenting plan. In some cases, parents will have joint authority over their child’s documentation. In others, one parent will be responsible for authorizing and maintaining important files and lend them to other parties when necessary.

8. Relocations

Relocating when you share a child with someone you have separated from is regulated carefully in Canada. The Children’s Law Reform Act includes a framework to be followed if either party wishes to relocate. It stipulates that:

  • If one parent wants to move away, they must provide the other parent with 60 days notice before their intended relocation
  • The other parent will have 30 days to officially respond with an objection to the relocation
  • If the other parent does not respond within 30 days, the original parent is entitled to relocate
  • If the other parent objects within 30 days, the original parent cannot relocate until a court determines the best procedure forward

Decision-making responsibility and parenting time arrangements can be significantly affected if one parent decides to relocate. It may be helpful to reiterate in your parenting plan that notice is required for relocations, and that objections may occur in response.

9. How to Resolve Conflict in The Case of a Dispute

Your parenting plan should include a mechanism for conflict resolution in the event that you and your co-parent have a disagreement. For example, you might set a limit on the length of time that a disagreement may continue between you and another parent. If a conflict is not resolved within the set timeframe, your parenting plan may prescribe that a third party become involved.

Helpful mechanisms for conflict resolution might include a mediator or parenting coordinator who facilitates negotiations between parties. Your parenting plan may also outline a “tie-breaker,” which outlines next steps if mediation cannot resolve your dispute. This may involve giving an arbitrator the ability to make a final decision for you or settling your disagreement in court.

10. How to Make Changes to Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan should also include a procedure for how or when modifications can be made to it. It may prescribe that a review occur annually so that both parents can confirm their satisfaction with the arrangement. If any changes are to be made, they should be made in writing and incorporated into your official parenting plan. If a dispute occurs over changes to the parenting plan, then the conflict resolution mechanism you have previously agreed to may be employed.

The number of details to be considered in your parenting plan can be daunting. Making sure you and your co-parent agree to all of them can be even more complex. Our family law lawyers at Gelman & Associates can assist in ensuring your child receives the best care possible following your separation or divorce. Contact us today.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.

Contact Form - Contact Us Page

Request a free consultation

Please fill out this form with your contact information and someone will be in touch with you soon.

Contact Preferences

How would you like to be contacted? Click all that apply.

How can we help you?

Brief description of your legal issue:

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm is not secure and does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.



4211 Yonge Street • Suite #210 • Toronto • Ontario • M2P 2A9

View Map | Learn More

Aurora **

16 Industrial Parkway South • Aurora • Ontario • L4G 0R4

View Map | Learn More


500 Mapleton Avenue, Suite A • Barrie, Ontario • L4N 9C2

View Map | Learn More

Downtown Toronto **

100 King Street West • Suite #5600 • Toronto • Ontario • M5X 1C9

View Map | Learn More


4257 Sherwoodtowne Blvd Suite #300 • Mississauga Ontario • L4Z 1Y5

View Map | Learn More

Scarborough **

10 Milner Business Court • 3rd Floor • Scarborough • Ontario • M1B 3M6

View Map | Learn More

Grimsby **

33 Main Street West, • Grimsby • Ontario • L3M 1R3

View Map | Learn More

Whitby **

105 Consumers Drive - Unit 2, • Whitby • Ontario • L1N 1C4

View Map | Learn More
** Satellite office that requires you to book an appointment with us prior to arriving at the office.
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers
Law Society of Ontario
Peel Law Association
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
York Region Law Association
Collaborative Practice Simcoe County
Law Association Simcoe County
Widows & Orphans Fund