Setting up a clear parenting plan

Experts note that one of the most important things to do when setting up a parenting plan is to make sure that it is clear and easy to understand. You want both you and the child’s other parent never to be in doubt about what your rights and responsibilities look like.

It’s often wise to be precise, rather than leaving things open-ended. For example, you may know that you want to be allowed to spend a “generous” amount of time with your kids, so you’ll campaign to have that included in the parenting plan. If it is, you’ll think the plan is going to work with ease.

However, this imprecise term can cause issues down the line. What if you think that a generous amount of time means you’ll see the kids for a few hours every day, while the other parent thinks it means you’ll just see them a couple times a week? In the other direction, what if the other parent thinks this means you’ll primarily watch the kids during work hours, when that wasn’t what you intended at all, and you just wanted to get that “generous” amount of time out of the way on the weekends?

Having some freedom and flexibility within the plan can be nice, but you can see how this can cause future arguments and even legal issues due to unclear communication. It may be wise to instead draft a very specific schedule so that you know what to expect, and then you can make short-term alterations to that schedule as needed—if you want to take extra time with the kids to go on a trip, for example.

When drafting the parenting plan in British Columbia, always try to think forward and predict any issues that could arise so that you can address them before they do. At the same time, be sure the plan addresses your legal rights properly.

Source: Government of Canada, “Parenting Plan Tool,” accessed Aug. 16, 2016

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