New Brunswick Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
This article covers custody agreements in New Brunswick and gives guidelines on creating an effective parenting plan for New Brunswick courts.
When making a parenting plan / custody agreement in the Province of New Brunswick, you can write up your own parenting plan (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 agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
New Brunswick has laws pertaining to child access and visitation that must be complied with when litigating child custody, but the laws may seem confusing and hard to access.
The Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick has created a booklet that simplifies and explains some of the laws, and provides answers to some frequently asked questions.
Child Custody and Access in New Brunswick is available in both English and French, and is a valuable resource that can be used when creating a parenting plan (parenting agreement) in New Brunswick.
When parents separate or divorce, and families are restructured, there are many issues that must be resolved. The most important situation that must be addressed is the care and custody of the children from the relationship. The information found in the Child Custody and Access in New Brunswick booklet can help you stay on track when making your agreement.
There are several different types of custody in New Brunswick so it is important that you be aware of the common terminology that you will use in your agreement:
- Custody: Having the care and control of a child, including the authority to make major decisions about the child. Parents (whether married or not) have equal right to the custody of their children.
- Sole Custody: Only one parent has the legal right and responsibility to provide for the day to day care of the child, and that parent makes the decisions about the child's education, religion, health care, and upbringing. In a sole custody arrangement, the child lives with one parent more than 60% of the year.
- Joint Custody: Both parents share the responsibility to care for the child. The parents can set up any type of arrangements they want, and both parents make decisions about bringing up the child.
- Joint Physical Custody or Shared Custody: When the parents have joint custody and joint physical custody. The child lives with each parent at least 40% of the time during the year.
- Split Custody: Each parent has custody of one or more of the children. Each parent has one or more children living with him/her more than 60% of the time during the year.
- Access: The right of a child and a parent without custody to spend time together. This is also referred to as visiting rights.
Prior to creating your parenting plan, it is important to be aware of the various ways the custody of children is determined. There are three methods for determining child custody in New Brunswick:
- Parents may cooperate with each other and create their own parenting plan, and submit the parenting agreement to the court.
- Parents that are unable to agree on their custody arrangements may attend mediation in an effort to reach an agreement and submit that parenting agreement to the court.
- Parents that are unable to come to an agreement, either on their own or in mediation, shall have the custody of their child and their parenting arrangements decided by the court.
Most parents will agree that while it may be difficult to work with the other parent to create a parenting agreement, it is better for the child if the parents create the parenting arrangements, not the court.
As parents, you have an intimate knowledge of your child and his or her needs that the court could not possible possess. It is in your child's best interest if you can set your differences aside for his or her sake.
The court holds the child's best interest as the ultimate determining factor when considering custody. Some of the factors the court considers when determining the child's best interests are:
- The physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The existing and past history of care arrangements for the child and how disrupting the continuity of the current arrangement would affect the child
- The nature of the relationships, including the love, affection, and emotional bonds the child has with each parent
- The nature of the relationships the child has with other people of importance in the child's life, and whether or not the child has any siblings, and what affect disrupting these relationships would have on the child
- The plans each parent has for providing care for their child
- Whether or not a parent is able to provide basic needs for their child, which includes shelter, adequate food and clothing, medical care, and a safe and healthy environment, as well as the stability of the home
- The child's heritage and cultural needs, including religion and linguistics
- The views and preferences of the child, provided the child is able to understand the nature of the decision and is old enough and mature enough to voice an appropriate opinion
- The court generally does not like to involve children in the custody process, as it may be detrimental to a child to be forced to choose between parents, but sometimes teenagers will wish to voice a preference and the court will consider their view
- The willingness of each parent to cooperate with the other parent, communicate effectively with the other parent on matters involving the child, and the likeliness of a parent to comply with the parenting agreement and allow the other parent access to the child in accordance with the court ordered custody arrangements
When you consider the perspective of the court and the factors the court considers when making a decision on a parenting plan, it can really give you an advantage and help you make a better plan.
There are a few things you will want to be sure to include in your New Brunswick parenting plan:
- A declaration as to the legal and physical custody of the child
- A parenting time or child visitation schedule that defines where the child will live and the days and times each parent shall have the child in their physical care
- A schedule for parenting time during holidays and special occasions
- An agreement as to the authority for making major decisions in the child's life, such as educational, religious, medical, and other important decisions
- A method for dispute resolution should disagreements about the parenting plan occur in the future
- Provisions to modify the parenting plan should needs or situations change
- Any other topics or issues you would like to address may also be included in the parenting plan
When you keep in mind the criteria of the courts of New Brunswick and the fact that your relationship with the other parent is not ending, it is just changing, you should be able to create a parenting plan that will successfully protect and serve the needs of your child until he or she reaches adulthood.
The top ten cities in New Brunswick (by population, Statistics Canada) are: Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton, Dieppe, Miramichi, Riverview, Edmundston, Quispamsis, Bathurst, Rothesay.