Children are the most important consideration for parents in their separation and divorce. In negotiating a settlement with your spouse on parenting issues, the following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the issues you and your spouse should discuss and agree upon which can help your lawyers draft a Separation Agreement:
- Who will make decisions regarding the children’s education, medical decisions, religious upbringing and major extra-curricular activities? Will these decisions be made by one parent, or jointly?
- Where will the children primarily reside? What type of parenting schedule will the other parent have? Will the children reside equally with each parent and if so what type of schedule will that look like?
- What should the parenting schedule be for holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, summer vacation, Halloween, and other special days?
- Who will be responsible for transporting the child(ren) and to where for parenting time exchanges?
- How often should the parent who does not have the children at a particular time be able to communicate with the child and by what method (e.g., phone calls, Skype, etc).
- Is each parent entitled to information from third parties regarding the children such as from teachers, doctors, dentists, etc.?
- Will the parents be attending parent-teacher meetings together or separately?
- Mobility – how far can a parent move the children from their current residence without a court order or the other parent’s consent?
- Which parent is keeping the identification for the children such as passports, birth certificates, etc.?
- What are the timelines for providing an itinerary for out of province travel and notarized travel consent for out of country travel with the children?
- How are disputes regarding parenting issues to be resolved (e.g., mediation, parent-coordinator, court)?
- What constitutes a change in circumstances that permits one party to seek a change to the parenting arrangements?
- How are the parents to communicate and how often? How are they to share documents regarding the children?
- Is a clause needed that neither party will communicate negatively about the other parent in a child’s presence?
These are all questions that need to be considered in preparing a parenting agreement upon separation. The answers to these questions will form the outline for a parenting plan in a separation agreement. This is a non-exhaustive list of questions. Parents can be creative in preparing a parenting plan for their children.
In negotiating these terms, parents have a number of avenues outside of Court: mediation, working with a parenting coach, and negotiating through lawyers. Just remember that the parenting plan must be incorporated into either a proper and valid Separation Agreement (should have lawyers for this) or a Court Order.
We have also prepared a blog setting out what items to consider in preparing a child support agreement and that can be found here.
If you are in the Barrie area have any questions regarding the parenting issues arising from your separation or divorce please contact our office for a one-hour no obligation consultation.