Parenting Plans

Angela Princewill

October 7, 2015

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that outlines decisions about a child after a couple separates or divorces. The purpose of a parenting plan is to describe parenting arrangements that focus on, but are not limited to:

  • How decisions regarding the child are to be made (ie. By one parent or by both)
  • How information about the child will be disclosed to the other parent
  • When each parent gets to spend time with the child
  • How to address other parenting issues that may arise in the future as the child grows older


The goal of a parenting plan is to enforce and reflect the interests and needs of a child. By setting out a written guideline to adhere to, this minimizes confusing and disagreement amongst the parents. Children’s psychological needs are satisfied by parents who cooperate with one another and the parenting plan can achieve that.


There are certain characteristics that make a parenting plan an ideal solution during a separation or divorce because it does not need to be in fancy legal terms but should be written in detail to address any issues that may arise but it is also adaptable to the real circumstances of the child and his/her surroundings.

A parenting plan provides a healthy negotiation between the parents and stability for the child. The parents work through arrangements and circumstances that best suit the child and his/her expected future to be able to develop the best parenting plan for them to follow as a guideline.

While it is not necessary to have a parenting plan, it is intended for parents who would like to create an agreement to both be involved in the child’s life.

What to incorporate in a parenting plan

Parenting plans are suited to the child and his/her best interests. Therefore, each parenting plan will vary in arrangements but it is important to outline the basic needs of the child and foreseeable needs for the future. An example of topics to discuss in parenting plans are:

  • Drop off and pick up times.
  • Child’s school and recreational events.
  • Telephone/ communication between parent and child.
  • What to do when the child refuses to visit the other parent.
  • Division of child’s property between parent homes.
  • Emergencies
  • Custody and Access during holidays.
  • Vacations out of town or country.
  • Parent-teacher conferences.
  • Introducing new partners to the child.
  • Parent moving away

This list can be tailored to individual and child needs to produce a parenting plan that can effectively be used by a guideline that satisfies both parents.

What we can do for you

Seeking the aid of a lawyer when drafting a parenting plan can be highly beneficial for the best interests of the child and also for you as a parent.

It is important to know that parenting plans can sometimes be incorporated into a court order obligating the other parent to adhere by it. It is important when drafting a parenting plan to think of all topics that need to be discussed and to be realistic about them.

Many times the parents cannot reach an agreement and commonly lawyers are used to assist them in drafting their parenting plan. Lawyers can effectively include areas of child interest that parents are negligent to address or that cause conflict in negotiating. It is ideal to seek legal advice about what you as a parent want included in a parenting plan and minimize mistakes.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Experienced Lawyers in Markham, Toronto, Pickering, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.