What are Parenting Plans?

A parenting plan is a written document that describes how parents who are not together will care for and make important decisions about their children.  A parenting plan may describe:

  • how decisions about the children are made;

  • how information is shared between parents;

  • when each parent will spend time with the children (parenting time);

  • when the children will spend time with other important people in their lives;

  • how other parenting issues may be addressed.

A plan should have enough detail to be useful, and enough flexibility to be realistic.

A parenting plan may be very general.  It could simply say who will make decisions about the child, and set a schedule for when your child will be in the care of each parent or other important person to the child. Or, it may be very specific, setting out defined areas of decision-making authority for each parent, detailed schedules for your child’s activities and holidays, communication, travel and other aspects of a child’s care.

If both parents agree to a parenting plan, the Divorce Act requires a court to include the plan in a parenting or contact order, unless it is not in the best interests of the child.

The family courts in Nova Scotia require every person who is seeking to parent or have contact or interaction time with a child to file a parenting statement.

For more information about parenting plans, see the following online tools on the Department of Justice Canada’s website that help parents develop a parenting plan:

Parenting Plan Checklist 

  • This tool highlights practical issues to consider when developing a parenting plan.

Parenting Plan Tool

  • This resource has an interactive Parenting Plan Tool and information to make a personalized parenting plan. 

Making plans: A guide to parenting arrangements after separation or divorce - How to put your children first

  • This guide is published by the Department of Justice Canada, and provides information about parenting after separation and divorce, including:
    • how to decide on the best parenting arrangement for your children

    • what processes you can use to come to a parenting arrangement

    • what you (parents) may be feeling

    • what your children may be feeling