Quebec Custody and Access Schedules
You can create your own custody and access 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.
The Divorce Act of Canada stipulates that after parents separate, a child should have as much contact with both parents as is consistent with the best interests of the child.
Generally, as parents work out a time sharing arrangement of the child, they find it easiest to create a custody and access schedule that shows a clear schedule that allows the child to be with both parents on a consistent basis.
The custody and access schedule, or parenting time schedule, can be included with the custody agreement or parenting plan that is ratified by the court in Quebec.
If parents are not able to agree on a schedule, a judge can determine the custody and access arrangements.
A custody and access schedule is a calendar that shows the exact times when a child is with each parent and a complete custody schedule usually includes:
- An everyday or residential schedule that shows where the child is during the week and on the weekends
- A holiday schedule that shows where the child is during national, school, and/or religious holidays
- An extra event schedule that shows where the child is during school breaks, family holidays and vacations, birthdays, and other special occasions
- Rules and provisions about parents attending extra-curricular events, transportation for access and visitation, a process for making changes to the schedule, and other relevant issues
As you develop all of the parts of your custody and access schedule, you need to think very carefully about your specific situation and the needs of your child.
Focusing on what is best for your child will enable you to create a schedule that really works for your circumstances.
This will also help you make personal rules and stipulations that will help your schedule run more smoothly.
The way you make your parenting time schedule depends on your custody arrangements.
In Quebec, you can choose to have a joint custody agreement where you are both actively involved in raising your child and spending time with your child. With this type of arrangement, the custody and access schedule will give both of you significant and frequent contact with your child.
The other type of custody arrangement is when the child lives with one parent and the other parent has access, or visitation rights. With these types of schedules, the child usually spends the weekdays with the custodial parent and has a weekend arrangement (every weekend, alternating weekends, weekends with a mid-week visit, etc.) for access.
To set up the schedule, you need to consider your child's social and school life along with the work schedules of the parents.
Parents are expected to submit their own proposed custody arrangements to the court, but if they fail to do so, the court will make the arrangements for them.
Your custody case cannot be finalized without the inclusion of a custody and access schedule so you should try to work together with the other parent to make one that you both can agree on.
Usually when parents are able to cooperate, everyone is more satisfied with the schedule and the custody situation works better. You will also retain control over the arrangements when you make them yourselves.
If you find that you are having a hard time reaching an agreement, you are allowed to attend mediation to help you work out your differences. Quebec also offers some information sessions on parenting after separation that are free in some regions.
If you are not able to work out your differences with the other parent, you can appeal to the court and a judge will determine your custody and access schedule for you.
If you are unable to reach an agreement and leave things for the court to decide, you need to be aware of the following:
- The judge will determine custody based on what is best for the child, not on what is best for the parents.
- The judge will want to promote as much contact between the child and each parent as is best for the child.
- When considering which parent will be given custody, the judge will try to determine which parent is more likely to facilitate contact between the child and the other parent.
- The court can determine a custody and access schedule that the parents must follow.
Once the court makes a custody agreement and parenting time schedule official, you will be legally obligated to follow it.
You should also be aware that the court can make changes to your submitted custody and access schedule if it feels that would be best for the child.
The court will consider all of the relevant factors that collectively make up the child's best interests.
Some of the factors that the law considers are:
- The child's health and emotional well-being
- Any special needs the child may have
- The wishes of the child
- The wishes of the parents and each parent's willingness to accept custody
- The love, affection, and emotional bonds that exist between the child and important people in the child's life, such as siblings and grandparents
- The child's education and training
- The capacity of each parent to exercise the rights and duties of custody and guardianship
You should keep all of these factors in mind as you set up your custody schedule.
The top twenty cities in Quebec (by population, Statistics Canada) are: Montreal, Quebec, Laval, Gatineau, Longueuil, Serbrooke, Saguenay, Levis, Trois-Rivieres, Terrebonne, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Repentigny, Brossard, Drummondville, Saint-Jerome, Granby, Shawinigan, Saint-Hyacinthe, Dollard-Des Ormeaux, Blainville.