If you and your co-parent are separating and plan to continue living apart, you will need a parenting plan to define how you handle issues concerning your children.
A Kawartha Lakes parenting time lawyer could explain what the law requires in your plan. If you and your co-parent cannot agree, a local family lawyer like Paul Riley could help you negotiate through collaborative divorce, mediation, or another form of dispute resolution.
It is tough on children when their parents split. Developing a plan that allows the children to preserve their relationships with both parents could ease their adjustment to their new circumstances.
Both the Divorce Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act require co-parents who live apart to develop plans to govern how they will raise their children. The plans must cover where the children will live most of the time, how much time they will spend with each parent, and how the parents will divide decision-making responsibility.
The parent the child lives with most of the time is sometimes called the custodial parent, but more often, the primary parenting time parent. The other parent has access, or parenting time, which used to be called visitation. Both laws encourage parenting plans that allow each parent significant parenting time with their children and do not favor either gender in assigning primary parenting time status.
Parents are free to design a plan that works for them and their family. They could have shared parenting time, which means the children spend at least 40 percent of their time with each parent. Sometimes the parents have split custody, which means each has primary parenting time with at least one of their children. In some cases, the court restricts one parent’s access to the children due to concerns about the children’s safety.
The parenting time section of the parenting plan could be very specific about what days of the week the children are with each parent, transportation arrangements, holidays, and similar matters. However, some parents choose to be more general and allow for adjustments as circumstances require.
The more specific the plan, the easier it is to prove violations and seek enforcement in court, but some families’ circumstances require a more flexible approach. A dedicated Kawartha Lakes lawyer could listen to your needs and suggest a parenting time approach that would be a good fit for your family.
Parents also use the parenting plan to decide which parent will have authority to make decisions regarding the children’s healthcare, religious upbringing, education, and other major life issues. This is called decision-making responsibility. For day-to-day decisions, like when a child must do their homework or where they may play, the Children’s Law Reform Act s. 28(6) says the primary parent who is caring for the child makes these judgments.
Parents who communicate well often share decision-making responsibility, either deciding all questions together or giving one parent authority over some topics and the other parent having authority over others. In other cases, one parent has decision-making authority on all issues but must inform the other of their decisions.
When parents cannot agree on issues fundamental to their separation or life apart, courts will decide for them. Ceding so much power to a judge rarely results in an optimum solution, and judges strongly prefer that parents resolve parenting time issues without judicial intervention whenever possible.
Mediation can be an effective process for many couples, even those that do not communicate constructively. Working with a neutral third party often allows parents to hear each other’s concerns and address them effectively. Sometimes conflict is so intense that it is best for their respective lawyers to negotiate an agreement.
Paul Riley, an experienced parenting time lawyer in Kawartha Lakes, could help you navigate the alternative dispute resolution process and review any agreement you reach before submitting it to the court. If you prefer, he could work with your coparent’s legal representative to find a satisfactory resolution.
A parent with a reasonable fear of violent or abusive behavior from their co-parent must approach developing a parenting plan differently than a parent that does not face this concern. Parenting plans must consider previous instances of domestic violence, child abuse, or emotionally controlling behaviors.
Kawartha Lakes parents in this situation could rely on their legal representatives to negotiate a parenting plan. You need a solution that protects each party’s rights, preserves the children’s relationship with each parent to the degree feasible, and offers physical and emotional safety to all parties.
When communication between the parents is impossible, decision-making authority generally rests with one parent only. If a parent’s behavior is unsafe, the court could order supervised visitation or, in rare cases, deprive a parent of the opportunity for in-person parenting time.
If you and your co-parent are trying to establish a suitable parenting plan, consult a Kawartha Lakes parenting time lawyer like Paul Riley immediately. He could explain the legal requirements and provide sound advice based on past experience negotiating and enforcing parenting time arrangements.
Your children benefit from clear expectations, and parenting time is no exception. A reliable schedule that ensures a continuing relationship with both parents can help children adjust more easily to your separation. Reach out to our skilled and compassionate legal professional Paul Riley today.
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