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Parent Information Program (PIP)

A program offered in the family law courts in Nova Scotia to assist parties involved in a court proceeding to support their children during the process and to identify and practice ways to keep children from getting caught in the middle of the conflict. Parties to a court proceeding involving children will be signed up for a group PIP session by court staff, including grandparents making an application in regards to their grandchildren. Your ex-partner will be signed up for a different session – you will not attend together. PIP is offered in both English and French.

Parental capacity assessment

See ‘Assessments’

Parenting arrangements

The arrangements put in place, between parents by agreement or outlined in a court order, that say where the children live, and what the visiting arrangements are.

Parenting plan

A written document that is made between parents. It sets out parenting arrangements that the parents feel are in their children’s best interests.  It is not usually signed like a legal contract. It is a way for parents to figure out what parenting arrangements they think will work best with their children and to keep track of these arrangements on paper.

Parenting Statement

A document used in the Supreme Court (Family Division) and Family Court that sets out parenting arrangements. Generally, both the parent requesting an order for child custody or access and the parent responding to the application must complete this document.

Parenting time

The time a child spends with a parent or guardian, under a court order or agreement. Each parent’s or guardian’s time with the children is called ‘parenting time’, even when the child lives most of the time with one parent. It is helpful to have a parenting schedule in place.


Party to a file

Someone starting or responding to a court application. This includes anyone listed as an applicant, petitioner, or respondent on that court file.


The person or people on either side of a legal dispute, agreement/order or court file. Parties are the people who have a right to appear in court and to seek an order from the court.


The person who pays child support or spousal support.

Peace Bond

A court order that you may apply for when someone has threatened or harmed you. This can be a partner or spouse, or another person.  The person who is accused of threatening or harming you may be told by a court that they must be on a Peace Bond, or can agree to go on one when an application is made to the court. The Peace Bond may also include conditions such as to stop contacting you and stay away from your home or place of work. 


Perjury is when someone who is giving evidence, either in an affidavit or in court, purposely doesn’t tell the truth. Perjury basically occurs when someone lies under oath or affirmation. There can be serious consequences for committing perjury, including criminal charges.

Personal service

A way of giving notice of a court proceeding to a person, where someone hand-delivers a package of documents directly to that person. Personal service cannot be done by mailing documents to someone, or using a courier, fax, or registered mail. If the person being served has a lawyer, that lawyer may accept service for their client.

Petition for Divorce

One way to start the divorce process in Nova Scotia. A Petition can proceed on a contested or uncontested basis, depending on whether or not the Respondent files an Answer to contest. Petitions for Divorce must be personally served on the Respondent.


The person who starts a divorce proceeding by filing a Petition for Divorce.


The claims, and the responses to those claims, made by each of the parties involved in a court matter. Pleadings are found on the document that starts the court matter (for example, a Notice of Application, a Notice of Variation Application, or a Petition for Divorce). Pleadings are also found in the document that sets out the other person's response to that claim, if applicable (for example, a Response to Application, or an Answer filed to contest a divorce). The pleadings must contain enough information about the claims to establish the factual and legal right to go forward with the matter.

For example, Vivian files a Petition for Divorce, checking off the issues of custody, access, child support, spousal support and division of property under the appropriate sections of the Divorce Act and Matrimonial Property Act. These are the things that Vivian wants to 'deal with' as part of the divorce - these issues, and the legal authority she lists for how she is asking to have them resolved, are her pleadings. Her spouse, Robert, files an Answer to show that he is not in agreement with what she is requesting for the parenting arrangements. He outlines in his Answer what he is seeking for the custody and access arrangements under the appropriate section of the Divorce Act. These are his pleadings.

Primary caregiver

Or ‘primary parent,’ is a term that is often used in agreements and court orders; however, it is not one that is defined anywhere in the law.  Sometimes, the term used is ‘primary residence’ or the phrase ‘the children reside primarily with Parent A’.

This term is used to make the wording of an agreement or order easier to understand. It does not mean that the primary caregiver has any extra authority or decision-making power over the other parent.


The steps taken in a court case.

Provisional Order

An order made in one reciprocating jurisdiction, but it is of no force and effect until a confirmation order is granted in the other reciprocating jurisdiction

Psychological assessment

See ‘Assessments’