Parenting Plans (Parenting Agreements) in Alberta

Parenting plans (also called parenting agreements) give separated and divorced parents guidelines for raising their children.

You can negotiate the terms of your parenting plan one-on-one with the other parent or with the help of an alternative dispute resolution professional. Afterward, you'll decide together whether to have a court make your parenting plan legally enforceable as a consent order.

If you can't agree on a plan, a judge will decide your parenting arrangement. Their decisions will be written into a similar document, but it will be called a parenting order.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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What to consider when creating a parenting plan

Your parenting plan should account for everything important to your family. Some things to keep in mind when creating your plan:

  • Your child's age and maturity level
  • The distance you live from the other parent
  • How well you and the other parent get along
  • Who has provided most of the child's care
  • Parents' work schedules
  • The child's school and extracurricular schedule

If you have a child who has not spent much time with one parent, consider using a step-up parenting plan, which slowly increases one parent's involvement over months or years.

It's recommended that you get independent legal advice before signing a parenting agreement. This helps ensure the terms are fair to you and suit the child's best interests.

Parenting plan templates

Choose any template that suits your needs.

The Government of Canada's parenting plan tool can help you build a basic plan.

The Custody X Change parenting plan template helps you build a more personalized plan. You have hundreds of provisions to choose from and the option to create your own provisions.

Required elements of a parenting plan

At a minimum, your parenting plan must include terms about the following topics.

Decision-making responsibility

Decision-making responsibility is the right to make decisions for and about your child.

Typically, parents share this right. You may choose to divide who can make which decisions. For example, one parent may make all decisions about the child's diet while the other decides the child's extracurricular activities.

Specify how you will go about making decisions together. When you can't agree, will you consult a parenting coordinator or a mediator? Or will you appoint a friend or family member to be the "tiebreaker"?

Living arrangements

State who will provide your child's primary residence or if your child will live in each parent's household for equal time.

Parenting time

Parenting time is the time a guardian spends with their child.

With specified parenting time, you follow a parenting time schedule that lays out the days and times each parent has the child.

Be sure to account for the following when creating a schedule:

  • Holidays (religious and nonreligious)
  • Seasonal school breaks
  • Birthdays
  • Mother's Day and Father's Day
  • Long weekends

Reasonable parenting time means you do not have a schedule and instead agree when to exchange the child as you go. This only works if you have a great co-parenting relationship.

Say which arrangement you agree to. If it's specified parenting time, include a clear and detailed schedule.

Optional parenting plan provisions

The more detailed your plan, the less room for interpretation that can lead to arguments. Use a parenting plan checklist as a guide to choosing provisions. Consider the following.

Attending the child's events

Sometimes, parents don't get along well enough to attend the same events to support their children. If this applies to you, state who can attend what.


Detail where the child is allowed to travel, who can get the child a passport, whether the child can travel alone and more.

Relocating with the child

A relocation is a move that impacts the parent-child relationship. If a parent plans on relocating, how much advance notice must they give? How soon will you address changes to the parenting schedule?


Parents will need to communicate with one another and the child. State which methods are allowed. Face-to-face? Over the phone? Email? Text messages? Or will you communicate through a parenting app?

Knowing where the child is during visits

A point of contention for many parents is whether they can know where their child is during visits with the other parent. Set rules for how you will handle this, e.g., allowing the child to video call the other parent twice a day, requiring parents to inform one another if they're taking the child outside of their town or city, etc.

The child's belongings

Parents often argue over the child leaving clothes, toys and other items at each other's homes. Include how you will handle the child taking items to the other parent's household.

The child's diet

List the child's allergies and any foods that you agree not to allow them to eat.

Change in guardianship

How will guardianship change if a parent dies? Name someone who has agreed to take over in such an event.

Contact time

State whether someone other than the child's guardians will have regular visits with the child. Name the person and how often they can see the child.

Child support and cost-sharing

If you agree on a support amount, you can include child support in your parenting plan. You'll have to ask the court to approve this amount before it becomes official.

You can also agree to share or reimburse costs. For example, if a parent has to drive a distance to drop off the child, you might consider sharing the cost of gas.


If you'll share parenting time, decide who can claim the child on taxes. Will you alternate by year? Each claim different children?

Don't forget the Eligible Dependent Tax Credit and the Tuition Tax Credit. Be sure to read up on the rules around who can claim.

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

When you're writing a parenting plan, it's critical you use airtight language that leaves no room for interpretation. You must also be careful not to omit any required information.

If you hire a lawyer, they'll write up the plan and ensure it meets the court's requirements.

If you write your own plan, use technology to take guesswork out of the equation. The parenting plan template in the Custody X Change online app walks you through each step.

The result is a professional document that demonstrates your competence as a parent from the first glance.

The easiest and most reliable way to make a parenting plan is with Custody X Change.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

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Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

Co-parent civilly

Our parent-to-parent messaging system, which detects hostile language, lets you collaborate without the drama.

Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

Never forget an exchange or activity

Get push notifications and email reminders, sync with other calendar apps and share with the other parent.

Save up to $50,000 by avoiding court

Write your parenting agreement without lawyers. Our templates walk you through each step.

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