Parenting Plan Guide and Template

Parenting Plan Guide
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download Word document here
Parenting Plan Template
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REVISION PROJECT

The Task Force appointed by the AFCC-O prepared its Parenting Plan Guide and Parenting Plan Template to assist parents, lawyers, mediators and judges in developing child-focused, realistic parenting plans.  The process of preparation of these materials involved input and review by many members of the AFCC-O.

These materials were released in January 2020 and are being used by lawyers and mediators to help prepare their clients for making parenting plans, as well as used directly by self-represented litigants. They have also been cited by judges as a “very helpful” source of information for parents and the courts: Saunders v. Ormsbee-Posthumus, 2020 ONSC 2300, J.N. v. A.S, 2020 ONSC 5292. The materials have been presented at a number of AFCC-O sponsored webinars for Ontario family justice professionals on making parenting plans, most recently in the Kingston area on January 27, 2021.

The AFCC-O Board has decided to undertake a revision of the materials in light of experiences to date, and the fact that the CLRA and Divorce Act amendments will be in force as of March 1, 2021. The members of the original Task Force have agreed to undertake this project (except for Andrea Himel, who is now a judge), and with some members added to better reflect the professional, linguistic and cultural diversity of the province.

The materials have generally been very well received, but there have been some specific suggestions for possible minor revisions, such as encouraging parents to add an extra day for long weekends rather than having special provisions that can lead to a “three weekends in a row” situation for parents with an alternating weekend arrangement. 

It has also been proposed that the materials should more explicitly recognize the “maximum parenting time,” though the words “maximum contact” have actually been removed in new legislation, so this proposal is controversial.

The Task Force has begun its work, but suggestions and comments are still welcome.  Please send by Monday Feb.22 to the Task Force Chair at bala@queensu.ca

Funding is being sought from the Department of Justice to allow for translation of the materials and to assist with publication, education and research related to these materials and parenting plans.

Task Force Members (Version 2.0)
Nicholas Bala, Law professor, Kingston (Chair)
Rachel Birnbaum, Social Work professor, London
Brian Burke, family lawyer, Toronto
Antoinette Clarke, mediator, Peel Region
Crystal George, Co-ordinator of Social Services, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Sarnia
Kim Harris, psychologist, London
Carolyn Leach, Children’s Lawyer, Toronto
Archana Medhekar, family lawyer and mediator, Toronto
Rana Pishva, psychologist, Ottawa
Dr. Shelly Polak, psychologist, Toronto
Vicky Ringette, family lawyer and mediator, Hamilton
Michael Saini, Social Work professor, University of Toronto
Jennifer Wilson, family lawyer, Toronto



ABOUT

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