After separation or divorce, parents can enter into a Parenting Agreement, which is a written document outlining how the children are to be raised and what each party’s responsibilities and obligations will be with respect to the children. The Parenting Agreement does not need to include legal terms such as ‘custody’ or ‘access’ which are no longer generally used in British Columbia family law. These legal terms can be substituted for more friendly words such as ‘parenting responsibilities’ or ‘parenting time’.
The Parenting Agreement is intended to reflect the best interests of the children. It should contain enough detail to be useful but be realistic and flexible enough to reduce potential conflict.
Basic Elements in Parenting Agreements
Every situation is unique, but the basic elements that should be considered in your Parenting Agreement include:
- The children’s place of residence;
- The responsibilities, powers, and entitlement of each parent to make decisions for and authorize third parties regarding the children;
- The parenting time that each parent will spend with the children; and
- The dispute resolution process to resolve any or future disputes or issues in relation to parenting issues.
In the Parenting Agreement, parents can agree on how decisions are made, either jointly or individually, regarding the children’s upbringing. Parents can make a decision concerning the child’s education, medical or dental care, including any or all emergency medical treatments.
The Parenting Agreement can contain information on travel arrangements with the children and the notice to be given to the other parent. It should include information on the relocation of the children from the place of residence as well as information regarding the religious or cultural upbringing of the children. The parents can describe how decisions are to be made in terms of the extra-curricular activities the children may be registered in and how the expenses will be divided. The Parenting Agreement allows parents to create arrangements for holidays or significant days, such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
In order to reduce conflict between the parents, the Parenting Agreement should set out the type of information that needs to be communicated to other parent and how the parents will communicate with each other, whether in the normal course or in emergency situations.
Finally, the Parenting Agreement should set out a method to review the ever-changing circumstances of the children and the parties to ensure that the provisions remain in the children’s best interests. If circumstances have changed and the Parenting Agreement needs to be amended, there should be a process put in place to allow that to happen.
To learn more about how a Parenting Agreement can work for your particular situation call Henderson Heinrichs LLP at 844-604-3500 to arrange a free half-hour consultation or use our online enquiry form.