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What Parents Need To Know Legally When Separating With Children

What Parents Need to Know Legally When Separating with Children

Guest Blog written by Michael Lawson.

Michael Lawson is a specialist bankruptcy attorney who has helped many clients move past their bankruptcy. He currently writes for In his spare time, he likes to enjoy some downtime traveling with his family.

There are many reasons why a married couple may choose to separate. No matter what brought each party to this point, there are certain legal requirements that must be followed to ensure a legal separation or divorce. This is sure to be a very challenging time for the entire family. It’s very important to put the children first while they transition into this new dynamic. Parents are given the task to create a plan as to how they are going to take care of their children in accordance with Alberta’s laws regarding custody and parenting. Follow these tips for ways to prepare yourself and your children in the event of a separation.

Different Types of Custody

Custody is used to determine parenting time and access. There are many different arrangements for custody depending on your unique situation. The Court will always look at what is in the best interest of the child when making decisions regarding custody.

Sole Custody

This is when one parent has full custody of the children. The child will be living with the parent who has sole custody, and only the parent with custody will make all of the decisions. They may be minor or significant decisions for the children. The parent without sole custody has access and a right to information about the child. This type of custody may be subject to conditions. In this matter, the child will reside permanently with the parent having exclusive care, and the other parent may only have visiting rights.

Joint Custody

This is where both parents have guardianship and is also known as joint legal custody. Courts only award this type of charge to parents who can collaborate on parenting concerns in a big way. While parents may have joint custody, contrary to popular belief, the residence arrangements for the children may vary.

Shared Custody

Also known as joint physical custody. This essentially is when both parents specifically have custody of the children; both parents spend at least forty percent of their time with the children.

Split Custody

This is a type of custody where some of the children are with one parent, and the other parent has supervision of the remaining kids. Most courts never split up younger children from their siblings.

Things To Consider When Creating A Parenting Plan

There are many things to consider when creating a parenting plan. It’s recommend you seek legal advice on how to create a parenting plan that works for your family. Even if issues are not being disputed at the moment, this will help avoid challenges down the road. The following is a checklist of what should be included in a comprehensive parenting plan.

Living arrangements

It’s very important to specify living arrangements, such as, where the children will be living, and include any particular details regarding moving between homes and duration of time at each home.

Parenting Schedules

Discuss circumstances that might specifically require schedule changes, such as illness, tardiness, and social events.

Holidays and Other Special Occasions

Where and how will the family, specifically the kids, generally spend vacations, holidays and birthdays?

Health Care

Consider how to take care of medical appointments and expenses and who will have access to medical records.


Who will attend parent teacher interviews? Who will receive report cards? What if one parent moves and the children need to attend a new school? All of these questions should be taken into consideration.

Religion and Culture

What religious and cultural upbringing should the children have and what will the parents responsibilities be pertaining to this matter.

Children with Special Needs

Consideration for any type special treatment or therapies required now or in the future.

Extra-curricular Activities

Scheduled activities for children. Who will purchase equipment? Who will be responsible for ensuring the children attend during each parents parenting time? What if the children need to travel for things such as hockey tournaments?

Extended Family Members

Discussion about how extended family members should be given visitation rights of the children.


Arrangements if the children should be allowed to travel to different places either with one of the parents or alone. Who will hold onto the passports?

Communication Between Parents

Arrangements on how parents should communicate with each other regarding their children, and what medium should be used. This is especially important in high conflict situations.

Making Changes to Parenting Plan

Can amend any of the set rules in a significant way? If so, when? Will there be a review period in x number of years?

Solving Problems

Arrangements about how to work to solve issues that will arise or are already occurring with the children. This may included attending mediation or consulting a Parenting Coordinator.

If you are going through a separation or divorce, it’s important to seek legal guidance early on. Connect with us to set up an initial consultation today.


Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.