Manitoba Custody and Access Schedules
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (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 schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
Chapter 5 of the Family Law in Manitoba is the chapter on Parenting Arrangements (custody/access/guardianship).
This section of law has the necessary information for parents who need to set up parenting arrangements after a divorce or separation. Often, a big portion of the parenting arrangement is the custody and access schedule, which shows exactly when each parent has time with the child.
Fortunately, Chapter 5 has some guidelines that are applicable when making a parenting time schedule. Following these guidelines can help you create the best possible schedule for your child and for your situation.
To make your custody and access schedule, you first need to understand some of the definitions from the Manitoba law. Here are some custody terms that you should know for your schedule:
- Custody: All the rights and duties related to the care of the child.
- Physical custody: The actual everyday physical care and control of the child.
- Legal custody: The right to make all important decisions about the child's care and upbringing.
- Access: The right to have visits with the child and other types of contact with the child (including telephone calls, e-mail, mail, etc.).
To make a custody or parenting agreement in Manitoba you need to have information about how the parents will share or divide legal and physical custody.
Creating a custody and access schedule, which shows when your child is with each parent, fulfills the obligation concerning physical custody.
In Manitoba, you can have a sole custody arrangement, a joint custody arrangement, or a shared custody arrangement.
Before you sit down and divide the child's between the parents, you should first decide what type of custody arrangements you want.
In a sole custody arrangement, one parent has legal and physical custody of the child and the other parent has access.
In a joint custody arrangement, the parents share legal custody and one parent has physical custody with the other parent having access.
For shared custody, both parents share legal and physical custody of the child.
According to The Family Maintenance Act, both parents have equal rights to custody and control of the child if the parents of the child lived together after the child's birth (whether married or unmarried).
This means that if you lived together after the child's birth, both of you are automatically granted joint legal custody.
This may be something to consider as you think about what type of custody and access arrangement to set up. Simply being the "mother" or the "sole provider" or the "primary caregiver" does not entitle either of you to sole custody.
You should determine the type of custody (and, therefore the type of custody and access schedule) based on what is best for your child because this is what the court basis decisions on.
When thinking about what is best for your child, you should consider all of the aspects of your child's life and how the custody schedule will impact your child.
Chapter 5 lists some specific factors that the court considers when deciding what is best for the child:
- Care arrangements before the separation
- The parent-child relationship and bonding
- The parenting ability of each parent
- Any family violence or other conduct that relates to parenting ability
- The parents' mental, physical, and emotional health
- The parents' and child's schedules
- Support systems for both parents (assistance and involvement from grandparents and other relatives)
- Sibling issues (should the siblings remain together, etc.)
- The child's special needs
Yes, sometimes. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the court may consider your child's wishes.
The court gives more weight to the child's opinion as the child grows older, and the court will usually comply with a teenager's wishes.
These and the factors above are important to keep in mind as you set up a good schedule that will benefit your child.
Once you've decided the type of custody and you have your child's best interest as your focus, you can get started on actually scheduling out the time each parent has with the child. A basic custody and visitation schedule should include:
- A residential schedule that shows where the child is during normal weekdays and weekends.
- A schedule for holidays, school breaks, vacations, birthdays, and other special events. This additional information will help your schedule be more thorough.
- Along with the calendar of parenting time, you may want to consider adding some rules and provisions to help the calendar work more smoothly.
- A method for resolving disputes.
- Information about how to handle transportation for access and visitation, etc.
If you think about your particular situation, you will probably be able to come up with some good provisions that will enhance your schedule.
In Manitoba, parents are highly encouraged to work together on their parenting time schedule.
If you are able to agree you can write up your agreement in whatever language you want and the court will not interfere.
If you are unable to agree, the court can send you to mediation. Then you will be required to attend the class For the Sake of the Children.
If you are still unable to agree on the schedule after exhausting all options, the court will decide the parenting arrangements for you.
The top ten cities in Manitoba (by population, Statistics Canada) are: Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, Selkirk, Winkler, Dauphin, Peguis First Nation, Morden.