Ontario Family Mediation Service
Professional Family Mediation Services near Ontario
How you will raise your children after separation and divorce
A Co-parenting Agreement, also known as a Parenting Plan, is a childcare agreement between parents outlining how you will raise your children after separation and divorce. A Co-parenting Agreement reflects the needs and interests of the children involved. When writing a Co-parenting Agreement, both parents must mutually agree on the terms written. Then, it is typically attached as a Schedule to a Separation Agreement.
Including a detailed Co-Parenting Agreement in the separation process is extremely significant and essential to the future wellbeing and success of a child; therefore, it is recommended that two parents cannot and should not simply “wing it”. Both parents and children are most successful when clear and structured guidelines are in place. This will ensure that any future conflict and challenges are minimized to benefit the child in the future. In many cases, separating spouses can mutually agree upon child custody, access, residency, support, and other parenting arrangements without going to court to settle these terms. If this is not possible, a family mediator can be hired to assist with the legal guidelines of these agreed upon arrangements, as well as seeking independent legal advice from a trusted family law lawyer if necessary. In addition to these external supports, counsellors, therapists, and/or social workers may be useful to the process of creating a parenting plan. However, if it is necessary to attend court to settle these terms, then a judge will seek the best interest of the child when making an informed decision. Typically, a judge will assume that it would be beneficial for the child to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents, although this can be altered based on diverse circumstances. In some cases, a judge may suggest or require both parents to attended court ordered parenting classes to get good parenting tips and gain good parenting skills. Ultimately, by enrolling in parenting skills programs, both parents will gain improved parenting skills and parenting plan ideas. To help provide you with a better understanding of what should be included within a parenting plan template, please review the parenting plan checklist provided below. Although, it is important to consider the unique needs and interests of your child when planning how to parent your child in the future.
- Parenting Time (Shared Parenting, Primary residency with one parent etc.)
- Decision Making
- Residency Schedule
- Management of Recreational Activities
- Family, Friends and other Parties
- Introduction to New Partners
- Children’s Possessions Between Homes
- Screen Time
- Rules around Mutual Respect and Boundaries
With an appropriate Co-parenting Agreement any issues with co-parenting rules that may arise, can be greatly reduced. Research has shown that a child can best cope with their parents separating or divorcing when good co-parenting plans are in place. Typically, many parenting rules and expectations remain the same after a separation or divorce; however, there are endless factors for both parties to consider and review once the separation has occurred.
A very important co-parenting tip in being successful during this process is being clear, consistent, productive, and positive when communicating with the other parent; this is a the most useful co-parenting advice that you will receive from loved ones. Both parties must understand the emotional turmoil and vulnerability of a child involved in a separation or divorce. Therefore, each parent must be extremely supportive, understanding, comforting, stabilizing and flexible when co-parenting. There are various co-parenting agreement templates that can be found online, which can be created and utilized to best assist this process. Co-parents don’t necessary have to be friends, although they must maintain a certain amount of respect for one another during co-parenting communication and arrangements. Establishing and maintaining a level of civility is essential to constant, productive and positive communication, which should not be negotiable for co-parents.