The Parenting Plan Guide and Parenting Plan Template have been prepared by the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC-Ontario) to assist parents and their professional advisors in developing child-focused, realistic parenting plans. These publications provide suggestions intended to help improve communication between parents, and offers guidance for the making of plans to share parenting of a child between parents who have separated or who have never lived together. The central theme of the Guide and Template is that in most cases it is in the best interests of children for parents to cooperate and minimize conflict between them, and for their children to have a significant relationship with both parents. These resources should support parents in fulfilling these goals.
This Guide and Template combine knowledge gained from developmental research on the impact of parental separation and divorce on children, with practical insights about the needs of children with parents living apart. This Guide is intended to be used in conjunction with the AFCC-Ontario Parenting Plan Template, which offers suggestions for specific clauses that can be used or adapted for a parenting plan.
The project to develop these materials was supported by the Board and membership of the AFCC-Ontario. While the members of the Task Force listed below took the lead in preparing these documents, the Guide and Template are the products of a collaborative effort by many members of the AFCC-Ontario and other professionals, without whose contributions this Guide would not have been possible. We especially acknowledge the work of former AFCC President and American child psychologist Dr. Robin Deutsch, who had a key role in drafting guidelines prepared by Massachusetts Chapter of the AFCC, and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Significant reliance was also placed on material from Justice Canada.
Some of the examples discussed in these materials are based on children having two different gender parents, a Mother and a Father. However, there are of course many families where this is not the case, and the ideas and approaches in this document should be useful for all parents experiencing separation or divorce, or for a parent co-parenting with a person who was not their partner.
Task Force Members
Nicholas Bala, Law professor, Kingston (Chair)
Rachel Birnbaum, Social Work professor, London
Brian Burke, family lawyer, Toronto
Crystal George, Co-ordinator of Social Services, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Sarnia
Kim Harris, psychologist, London
Andrea Himel, family lawyer, adjudicator & mediator, Toronto
Carolyn Leach, Children’s Lawyer, Toronto
Rana Pishva, psychologist, Ottawa
Michael Saini, Social Work professor, University of Toronto Jennifer Wilson, family lawyer, Toronto