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How to Create an Effective Parenting Plan During Divorce: Divorce Mediation Ontario

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Divorce is never easy, but as you navigate this difficult time, there is one constant: your children’s welfare must always take priority. One of the essential components of this process is the creation of a parenting plan. This document outlines each parent's rights and responsibilities, providing structure, clarity, and guidance during a tumultuous period in your family's life. In this article, we'll walk you through the importance of a parenting plan, its key elements, and how you can develop one successfully and effectively.

The purpose of the Parenting Plan

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The primary goal of a parenting plan is to ensure the ongoing well-being of your children. A well-crafted plan will outline each parent's responsibilities and provide a clear understanding of the expectations for the family going forward. It will address issues such as decision-making, parenting time, communication, and dispute resolution.

Creating a parenting plan not only benefits your children, but it can also help alleviate tension between parents and reduce the likelihood of future conflicts.

Key Elements of a Parenting Plan

A comprehensive parenting plan should cover the following elements:

  • Schedule of parenting time – including regular parenting time, holiday schedules, and vacation time.

  • Decision-making responsibilities – outlining which parent will make important decisions regarding the child's education, health, and welfare.

  • Communication protocols – describing how the parents will communicate and exchange information regarding the child.

  • Methods for resolving disputes – including how parents will handle conflicts that may arise.

  • Detail on parental behavior – guidelines for each parent to ensure that their behavior remains appropriate and respectful towards one another.

Developing a Parenting Plan during Mediation

Mediation is an excellent option for developing a parenting plan. During mediation, a trained mediator helps facilitate communication and negotiation between the parents. The mediator can help you focus on your child's best interests and come to a solution that is mutually beneficial. Mediation can help build co-parenting skills and lead to a more sustainable co-parenting relationship.

Implementation and Potential Modifications Over Time

Once the parenting plan is drafted and agreed to, it must be filed with the court. Both parents must follow the plan outlined and adhere to the schedule agreed upon. However, circumstances can change over time, and the parenting plan may need modifications. If there are any changes to the plan, it must be done formally, and both parents must agree to the modifications. Some examples of scenarios that may require a modification include a parent's relocation, a change in work schedules, or the child's evolving needs.

Practical Tips For Successful Co-parenting Post-Divorce

Co-parenting is not always easy, but a few proactive steps can help make it a more positive experience.

  • Focus on communication – Keep open communication between parents regarding the child's needs and updates. Use respectful language and stay focused on the child's well-being.

  • Stick to schedules – Adhering to the parenting schedule is critical. Consistency in scheduling provides stabilization and predictability for children.

  • Show Flexibility – Being flexible and accommodating about the parenting schedule with each other can be beneficial in the long term, especially when unexpected events occur, such as an illness or unforeseen business trip.

  • Be respectful – Respectful behavior is always essential, especially in front of the child. Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent, and never use the child as a messenger.

  • Seek Help – Co-parenting can be challenging, and support from professionals such as therapists, mediators, or parenting coaches can be beneficial.

Divorce is a challenging time, but creating a parenting plan can help provide structure and guidance for navigating the process. Remember to focus on your children's best interests, and keep the lines of communication open. With patience, empathy, and proactive efforts, co-parenting can be successful and positive for both parents and children.

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