Creating a Parenting Plan for Your Children After Separation or Divorce

A Parenting Plan is a written agreement between separated parents that may be contained in a court’s Order or a consent Agreement, that describes the roles and responsibilities that will be assumed by separated or divorced parents as they raise their children. The Parenting Plan contains a schedule and common parenting guidelines to be followed by parents. This promotes uniformity of parenting and removes many areas of disagreement that can arise along the way.

A Parenting Plan is a living document meaning that it changes with the needs of the parents and the children over time. Some parents re-visit their parenting plan annually before school starts, for example, to establish activities, appointments, vacations, and other responsibilities that they will share in the school year.

This service will focus on how children are negatively impacted by the post-separation conflict between parents and the tools that parents can use to reduce conflict. Participants will learn about the amendments to the Divorce Act relating to parenting arrangements, including the new duty on parents to protect their children from conflict.

To be eligible for this service, parent participants require a mutual agreement to attend mediation to develop a parenting plan. The parent participants will be screened for factors such as a history of “family violence” within the broad definition contained in the BC Family Law Act and in the new Divorce Act.

In sessions to develop a comprehensive Parenting Plan, parents will learn about and plan for:

  • The Summer 2020 amendments to the Divorce Act and provisions in the BC Family Law Act which relate to parenting arrangements.
  • The differences between an Interim Parenting Plan and a Final Parenting Plan under a final Order or written Agreement.
  • The various structures of decision-making responsibility that may be included in a Parenting Plan in a consent court Order or written Agreement.
  • The different residential schedules that may be included in a Parenting Plan.
  • The broad range of issues outside of decision-making responsibility and the allocation of parenting time that parents may wish to address in their Parenting Plan.
  • The level of detail parents may want to include in their Parenting Plan.
  • The role of counselors and the role of a Parenting Coordinator to implement a Parenting Plan.
  • The various family dispute resolution processes that are available to parents to help them resolve disputes about parenting issues.

Who May be Interested in this Service?

This service is appropriate for parents with children under age 18 and considering separation as well as for parents who are already separated or divorced.

The service will be of interest to parents who wish to create an initial Parenting Plan and for parents who wish to change an existing Parenting Plan as a result of changes in their own or their child’s circumstances.

BC Parent Coordinator

It will be of particular interest to:

  • Parents who are already experiencing conflict and want to improve their co-parenting relationship.
  • Parents who have not experienced significant conflict and who want to find out how to create and maintain a cooperative co-parenting relationship.

Parents may attend the service separately or together.

  • Those who are already separated and who wish to negotiate a formal agreement with the assistance of a mediator or a lawyer who addresses some or all of the issues which flow from a separation, including, parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support, property issues and a process for resolving future disputes between them.
  • Those who are already separated and are involved in court proceedings or arbitration proceedings and who wish to negotiate a written settlement, which includes provisions relating to how future disputes between them will be resolved.
  • Those who have an existing Separation Agreement, Court Order or Arbitration Award which contains a dispute resolution process and wish to understand more about how the specific family dispute resolution process(es) identified in their Agreement, Order or Award may be structured to be most effective and cost-efficient based on the family’s specific circumstances.

Parents will learn about:

  • How children are negatively impacted by the conflict between their parents.
  • How parents may identify their hot spots and address challenging issues before disputes arise.
  • What information parents are required to share.
  • Effective communication strategies and tools.
  • Avoiding behaviours that trigger conflict.
  • The various family dispute resolution processes may be used to resolve legal issues that are in dispute.

Parents will learn practical listening, communication, emotional regulation, and mindfulness skills that they can use daily to navigate their new relationship as separated parents.

  • Children's brain development and how it is impacted by adversity, including inter-parental conflict.
  • How to identify and regulate their emotions.
  • How to control impulsive behaviours.
  • How to make child-focussed parenting decisions.
  • How to practice mindfulness.
  • Effective listening.
  • Effective communication skills.
  • Skills that will change how they interact with each other so that their children have positive childhood memories and do not get caught in the middle.
BC Parent Coordinator