British Columbia Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
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.
The relevant laws are found in Chapter 128 in the Revised Statutes of British Columbia (RSBC), titled the Family Relations Act.
Part Two of the Family Relations Act contains the statutes pertaining to child custody and guardianship, and Part One defines some of the terms used in the chapter.
It is important that you have an understanding of the family laws of the province when drafting a parenting plan in British Columbia. You can use the legislation as a tool to help you make a parenting plan that complies with law while it benefits your child at the same time.
You should consider the statutes found in the Family Relations Act and incorporate the principles of the FRA into your parenting plan.
The most important factor you need to consider when creating your British Columbian parenting plan is the same factor the courts consider to be paramount when ruling on custody: the best interests of the child.
The Family Law Act, Part 2, Section 24 details what the court considers to be the principal factors that support the child's best interests:
- The physical and emotional health of the child
- Any special medical or other needs the child may have
- The views of the child, if the child is of an appropriate age to decide
- The significance of the loving and affectionate relationships the child has with each parent and other persons, such as grandparents, other relatives, and non-relatives in the child's life
- The educational and other training needs of the child
- The parenting capabilities of each party
These factors can be helpful guidelines as you make your agreement because they can help you focus on what is best for your child.
The court will only accept your agreement if it benefits your child, and if you and the other parent are not able to agree on a custody plan, the court will create one that it thinks is right for the child.
If you follow the above guidelines and make a thorough plan that works for your child, then you will be in a good position for the court to accept and approve your agreement.
When creating a parenting plan in British Columbia, you will need to include some key components to ensure the subsequent parenting order will be complete and accepted by the court.
The ideal parenting plan should be mutually agreed upon by both parties and include:
- A declaration as to what type of custody each of the parents will have, which will be either joint guardianship or sole guardianship (RSBC Family Relations Act, Part 2, Section 28).
- Joint guardianship means the parents will share custody of the child, though not necessarily in equal amounts of time.
- Sole guardianship means one parent shall have the child the majority of the time, with the other parent having access to the child (visitation).
- A parenting time schedule that defines when each parent shall have their regular time with the child.
- Holiday and vacation schedules that may include any birthdays or other special days.
- A summary of parental responsibilities and who will be responsible for making various specific decisions.
- A first right of refusal clause which entitles the other parent to be given the opportunity to provide care for their child prior to any other individual, such as a baby-sitter.
- A plan for a process to resolve future parental disputes or disagreements.
- Any other provisions parents may wish to include about parenting.
If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement, the Attorney General may appoint a family court counsellor to help you resolve any disputes (RSBC Family Relations Act, Part 1, Section 3).
If the court appointed counsellor is unable to help you reach an agreement, the counsellor may refer you to another counselling service or agency. Any unresolved matters will be decided by the court, so it is always best to make every effort to compromise for the sake of your child.
Mutually agreeing upon a parenting plan is the best way to ensure both parents are satisfied with the plan and the needs of the child are being met effectively, but it is not always possible for parents to agree.
If you find yourself in this situation, remember that there are resources available to help you.
If you consider the individual needs of your child when creating the parenting plan, it is more likely it is to be effective and successful.
It makes sense that the parent most qualified for certain aspects of the child's life should be afforded the opportunity to partake in those activities with the child.
Some examples of this are the sportier parent participating in the child's athletic events, or the more musically inclined parent assisting with music lessons, etc.
Using your employment schedules to construct an access schedule that will provide your child with the optimal amount of quality time with each parent is also a way to ensure your child's best interests are being met.
For example, if one parent works long hours every Saturday, it would be in the child's best interest to spend that day with the more available parent.
You should customize your parenting plan to your child's unique needs and circumstances. Considering all aspects of your child's life and the best interests of the child when writing the parenting plan will result in an effective plan that will likely be accepted by the court.
Yes. Parents are not the only persons who may be granted custody or guardianship.
The court has jurisdiction to order that one or more persons may excise custody over a child or have access to a child (RSBC Family Relations Act, Part 2, Section 35). These persons include the parents, the grandparents of the child, other relatives, and even non-relatives.
If you are in a situation in which a person apart from the other parent is seeking access to your child, you should consider whether or not it would be in your child's best interest to incorporate that access in your parenting plan.
The top twenty cities in British Columbia (by population, Statistics Canada) are: Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, Abbotsford, Langley, Coquitlam, Saanich, Kelowna, Delta, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Victoria, Prince George, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, West Vancouver.