Alberta Custody and Access Schedules
Creating an effective custody and access schedule will benefit you and your child. Here's how to make a custody schedule for Alberta.
You can create your own custody and access schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
Yes. One of the best family law resources in Alberta is the Family Law Act, which provides guidelines for divorced and separated parents about how to make a parenting plan and parenting schedule.
The Act was created in 2005. It specifically informs parents about how to make a schedule that is best for their child, what types of information should be included in the schedule, and how a schedule can be officially recognized by Alberta.
You will find some of the highlights from the Family Law Act that are most relevant to the custody and access schedule in the sections below. Hopefully this can give you a good foundation for making the right schedule for your child and your situation.
A custody and access schedule is a very important matter that has an effect on the child, and it is far better for the parents of a child to create the schedule than to have the court do it.
As parents, you have intimate knowledge of your own lives and your child's needs, which no court could possibly attain. You are, by default, much more qualified to create a personalized custody and access schedule for your child than anyone else is.
Some parents are not willing or able to reach an agreement. If parents are not able to agree on the specifics of their parenting plan, they can appeal to the court for help.
The courts will only intervene as necessary, but if parents are not able to agree on the parenting schedule the court will help them decide on one.
Generally, it is best for the child to have significant and frequent contact with both parents. Thus, many parents find the best type of parenting time schedule is one that gives consistent parenting time to both the mother and father.
To begin with, the Family Law Act was created to encourage divorced or separated parents to work together in making a parenting plan or system so that they can both be involved in raising their children.
A strong emphasis is placed on parents cooperating in order to create a system that benefits the child. This means that you need to do everything possible to work with the other parent as you create a parenting time, or custody and access, schedule.
If you are in a situation with a lot of conflict, you may want to look into mediation or other counseling services to help you and the other parent work through the difficulties.
To help parents work together instead of competing against each other, the terms custody and access are no longer used. Instead of a custody and access schedule, you must make a parenting time schedule.
They are the same thing, but by using different terminology the law hopes to steer parents away from thinking about winning custody and instead have them think about parenting solutions.
You will need to set up a schedule that shows when your child will spend time with each parent during the week, on weekends, during holidays, on school breaks, during vacations, etc.
Most parents find it easiest to have a very thorough schedule that shows where the child is at all times.
Once you have determined a schedule that shows when your child is with each of you, you can submit the schedule to the court to have it approved. If you and the other parent agree, the schedule will become part of your parenting order.
If you and the other parent are not able to agree, you may need to use mediation or attend some education classes that the court recommends. When these methods are not successful, the court will aid you in creating a parenting time schedule that will work for your situation.
Your parenting time schedule must be made in the best interest of your child, which the court determines by considering the following factors from the Family Law Act:
- The greatest possible protection of the child's physical, psychological, and emotional safety
- The child's needs and other circumstances
- The history of care for the child and the child's overall well being
- The child's cultural, linguistic, religious, and spiritual upbringing
- The child's views and preferences (to the extent possible)
- The nature and strength of the child's existing relationships
- The ability of each parent to care for and meet the needs of the child
- The ability of the parents to discuss and cooperate on issues affecting the child
- Any family violence and its impact on the child
- Any civil or criminal proceedings relevant to the child's safety and well being
These are only some of the factors that affect your child's best interest. As you make a parenting time schedule, you need to think about the specific needs of your child and make a schedule that allows your child to thrive in the new environment.
By focusing on what is best for your child, you will be able to create a more long lasting schedule, and it can also make it easier to work with the other parent.
Yes, other people of importance in your child's life may petition the court for a contact order.
Grandparents have an unrestricted right to apply for contact with grandchildren when parents are separated or when one parent is deceased.
A parent who is not considered a guardian, or a person standing in the place of a parent, also has an unrestricted right to apply for a contact order.
Other persons who are interested in applying for a contact order must have leave of the court to do so.
Along with a parenting order that shows how the parents share time with the children, Alberta allows for contact orders that can define how grandparents or other relatives spend time with the children. A contact order can include visits, phone calls, e-mails, and letters.
If you do not wish for your child to have contact with someone, you need to provide clear and convincing evidence and a valid reason as to why it would not be in the best interest of your child to maintain a relationship with that person.
The top fifteen cities in Alberta (by population, Statistics Canada) are: Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Strathcona, Lethbridge, St. Albert, Medicine Hat, Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie, Airdrie, Spruce Grove, Okotoks, Leduc, Lloydminster, Camrose.