A parenting plan is an agreement between parents on the children’s schedule, and how decisions about the children will be made after a separation. A parenting plan is unique to each family, with the best interests of the children as the guiding factor.

An effective parenting plan can help improve communication between separated parents and reduce conflict. The schedule ideally reflects the child’s age and stage of development and the practical realities of each family.

The Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts Alberta Parenting Plan Guide is an excellent resource to help build this plan. You can find it at Resources | AFCC Alberta Chapter.

The AFCC prepared a Parenting Plan Guide and Template (available free) to assist Albertan-separated parents. The guide contains information on how the plan can change depending on ages and stages of child development and suggestions on different schedules. In addition, there are ideas on the types of clauses to consider, such as, how long weekends, vacations, and school holidays will be shared. The Guide offers tips and ideas on many topics including brief and effective communication, the benefits to children of low-conflict co-parenting, and supporting children (and the child’s relationship with each parent) through a separation.

You may also wish to consult with your lawyer to discuss the legal effect of various parenting clauses or schedules and how to decide which best applies to your family.

Other resources that may be helpful to you include:

Parenting After Separation Seminar: Parenting After Separation (PAS) course | Alberta.ca

Government of Canada: Create a Parenting Plan (justice.gc.ca)

If your situation includes ongoing family violence, or a parent with serious substance abuse or mental health concerns, not all parts of the Guide may apply. The 24/7 Family Violence Information Line is 310-1818. If you are in danger, call 911.

For more tips, see I Just Want it Done! or talk to Ceri or another of our lawyers to get information and advice.

Written by Ceri Chwieros