A parenting plan does not have to be a battle
Ideally, parents who go through a breakup will place the well-being of their children above every other concern. For this reason, they are more likely to set aside their differences and work together to create a parenting plan that is in the best interests of the children while still fitting within their unique circumstances. This can be a challenge, but the alternative is working with court-appointed counsellors or leaving those important decisions to the British Columbia family court.
Since parents are not always eager to relinquish such delicate and personal decisions, many opt to create their own parenting plans. Where do they start, and what details are most important to include in such a plan?
Placing the child’s needs first
When there is no question about the fitness of each parent, creating a workable parenting plan is often a matter of concession and cooperation. It may be justifiable and even advisable to stand firm on certain issues during a breakup, such as asset division and support payments, but compromise is the name of the game when it comes to custody and parenting time.
For example, one parent may agree to let the other, more athletic partner handle the sporting activities of the children. Similarly, a parent with a complex work schedule may require some flexibility and understanding from the other parent whose schedule is more predictable. However, the needs of the child are of paramount importance.
Where to start?
A good way to begin is to look at the British Columbia statutes for parenting plans, called the Family Relations Act. This important law can provide the basic framework for parents to use when building their own custody program. Any parenting plan must take into consideration the following factors:
- The child’s emotional and physical health
- Any special educational needs of the child
- The child’s particular extracurricular interests
- Relationships the child has with extended family
- The wishes of a child who is old enough to decide
With these and other factors in mind, parents can create a plan that works for their own unique circumstances. A successful parenting plan will address the basic needs of the child and consider any factors that may arise outside of the routine, such as holidays and special trips. Ideally, the parenting plan will even include a workable process for resolving disagreements. When both parents are seeking the best interests of the child, the outcome is more likely to be positive.