Finalizing Your Custody Agreement in Canada: 3 Options

In Canada, separating and divorcing parents who reach a custody agreement don't have to go to court. A custody agreement (also called a parenting plan) is a document that details agreed-upon parenting arrangements.

To form an agreement, you can negotiate one-on-one with the other parent, or you can use the help of a lawyer or an alternative dispute resolution method.

From there, you have three options.

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

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Option #1: Hold on to your custody agreement

Once you have an agreement, you can simply keep it between you and the other parent.

Agreements signed by both parents and a witness are legally binding, meaning one parent can sue the other if they disobey the terms. But there's no guarantee that the court will uphold the agreement.

It's recommended that you hire a lawyer to draft your agreement. Lawyers know how to word and structure agreements so that they are ironclad. A local legal aid society can help if you cannot afford a lawyer. Or you could use a thorough parenting plan template.

Option #2: File your custody agreement with the court

Another option is to file your agreement with the court. The filed agreement becomes enforceable like a court order.

This option is only available in select provinces:

You'll have to file additional paperwork with your agreement, typically an affidavit. You may have to pay filing fees.

Agreements on file with the court differ from consent orders (more below) in that they are easier to change. Also, you can include more details in an agreement; consent orders are more succinct.

Option #3: Turn your agreement into a consent order

A consent order is a court order made up of terms parents agree on.

To get a consent order, you must petition the court. You may have to pay filing fees.

It's unlikely that you will have to appear in court. After you turn in your paperwork, the judge will review your agreement and, if the terms are in the child's best interest, sign off on it. You'll receive a copy of the order in the mail.

If you do have to appear in court, it will be for a short hearing where the judge will review your agreement's terms and confirm that you both agree to them.

Consent orders can only change with the court's permission. If a parent disobeys the order, they face sanctions from the court.

Following your custody agreement

Your settlement is only the beginning of your new co-parenting relationship. A co-parenting app can be vital to making the relationship work.

The Custody X Change online app has a thorough set of co-parenting tools: shared calendars, parent-to-parent messaging, expense tracking and more.

Turn to Custody X Change to ensure the best possible future for your child and your evolving family.

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

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Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

Join the 60,000+ other parents who have used our co-parenting tools

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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Long distance schedules

Third party schedules


Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

Sole physical custody

Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

Succeed by negotiating

Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

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