Nova Scotia Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
This article covers custody agreements in Nova Scotia and gives guidelines on creating an effective parenting plan for Nova Scotia courts.
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.
Becoming familiar with the laws and what the court expects is a great way to ensure your child custody case will end successfully and your parenting plan / custody agreement is accepted by the court.
Nova Scotia has specific laws pertaining to child custody and access. The laws can be found in the Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia.
There are different laws for various parenting statuses.
The laws pertaining to the custody of children of a marriage are contained in federal legislation, called the Divorce Act.
Additionally, if you are not seeking a divorce or you are not married, the laws for child custody and access are found in Nova Scotia's Maintenance and Custody Act.
The Maintenance and Custody Act was written to provide non-married couples and non-traditional families with family law legislation that they were technically excluded from in the Divorce Act.
The laws can be complex and confusing, but regardless of marital status, the basic principles of child custody remain the same and they are always based on the best interests of the child.
The law uses specific terminology regarding custody that you should be aware of before starting to create your parenting plan and there are several different types of custody:
- Custody, also known as sole custody, means the child lives with one parent. The other parent may be entitled to visitation rights. The custodial parent is responsible and tasked with making all of the decision about the child. The non-custodial parent may or may not be allowed some input into those decisions.
- Joint custody means the parents make the important decisions about the child together, but the child still primarily lives with one parent and has visitation with the other.
- Shared custody means the parents both have legal custody of the child as well as physical custody. When parents share custody, each of them will have physical custody of the child at least forty percent of the time, over the course of a year. This type of custody works well when parents are able to communicate with each other and work together effectively.
- Split custody means the parents have more than one child together, but each parent has custody of one or more of the children.
Unless you share physical custody, the child will live with one of you the majority of the time and the other parent shall have visitation, or access, with your child.
There are a few types of access:
- Reasonable access allows the other parent to visit with the child at reasonable and appropriate times, arranged with the custodial parent. Reasonable access allows the parents to be flexible and make their own arrangements.
- Specified access means the non-custodial parent is able to spend time with the child during set, certain times.
- Supervised access means the non-custodial parent shall only visit with his or her child under the supervision of another adult. Supervised access in only ordered in cases where the non-custodial parent in considered to be a threat to the child or the judge feels that is it in the best interests of the child.
When you are able to agree on a custodial arrangement and create a parenting plan and submit it to the court for review and approval, the court will most likely accept it as long as it is what is best for your child.
The court holds the best interests of a child to be the ultimate determining factor in child custody cases.
When you can communicate effectively and cooperate in a civil manner while working together to create a parenting plan, this reflects positively on both of you. This is certainly in the child's best interests.
As the best interests of the child are the priority in Nova Scotia custody cases, you can expect the court to give careful consideration to a variety of factors in your child's life, such as:
- The relationships between the child and each parent
- The history of the care of the child
- The moral fitness of each parent
- The quality of each proposed home environment
- The willingness and ability of each parent to meet the child's needs and provide proper care
- The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a good relationship between the child and other parent
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- Any evidence of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
- Any information the court finds to be relevant
There are certain elements that should be included in your Nova Scotia parenting plan:
- A declaration as to the type of custody the parents shall have and which parent shall provide the primary residence for the child
- A parenting time schedule that specifies the days and times each parent shall have the child in their physical care
- A schedule for holidays, special occasions and vacation
- A statement delegating authority for the responsibilities of making major decisions in the child's life
- Provisions for modifying the parenting plan in the future as the child grows and matures
- A method for dispute resolution, should the parents find themselves in conflict in the future
- Any other provisions the parents feel are necessary to facilitate an amicable relationship with each other
- Any other stipulations the parents find relevant to the care of upbringing of the child
If you carefully consider the needs and best interests of your child while evaluating the schedules of each parent and the capacity of each parent to provide the best care possible for the child, you will be sure to create a parenting plan the Province of Nova Scotia will readily accept.
The top ten cities in Nova Scotia (by population, Statistics Canada) are: Halifax, Cape Breton (Sydney), Truro, New Glasgow, Glace Bay, Sydney Mines, Kentville, New Waterford, Amherst, Bridgewater.