Divorce & separation

How to write your own separation agreement

Section 2: Parenting (Optional)

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In this guide, we use the parenting language that the BC Family Law Act uses. See our fact sheet Parenting apart for a list of the words we use and what they mean.

Your basic information

  1. In the Short name text boxes, enter the short names for you and the other party. These should be the same as the short names you entered in the Introductory clauses.
  2. In the Child/children's names text box, enter your children's names.

Once you've entered your names, they will appear below in place of Party 1, Party 2, or Name.

 

Child/children's names:

 

General guidelines for parenting

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Start the parenting section of your separation agreement with some general guidelines that you and the other parent both agree to follow when you deal with your children. These guidelines set the tone for your agreement and show that you intend to cooperate with each other.

Tip: Remember that all the paragraphs below are automatically included in your text file unless you click Don't include. If you change your mind, you can always include the paragraph again by clicking Include.

  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. If your situation isn't covered by paragraphs 1 – 9, include paragraphs 10 – 13 as necessary. In the text boxes, enter your own statement.

We recognize that it is valuable and important that our children have a loving and supportive relationship with each of their parents.

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We are both responsible for, and will contribute to, the care and upbringing of our children.

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We will try our best to fully cooperate with each other as parents.

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We agree to make decisions that are in our children's best interests and will put their interests ahead of our own.

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No matter where the children are living, we will regularly consult each other and keep each other informed about the children.

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We will find an appropriate way to include our children's views in our discussions.

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We will make it clear to our children that although we ask for their input, they are not responsible for the decisions that we make. We are responsible for making these decisions.

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We agree that we will communicate politely with each other, and we will not argue in front of the children or involve them in any conflict between us.

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We will both support and foster our children's relationship with the other parent. We will not speak negatively about the other parent. We will encourage our children to spend time with their other parent and their extended family.

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Guardianship

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When you and the other parent decide to separate, you both continue to be your children's guardians. That can only change if you have a written agreement or court order that says otherwise. For more information, see our fact sheet Parenting apart.

Important: Don't give up guardianship without getting legal help first.

  1. Decide whether paragraph 14 or 15 applies to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraph that doesn't apply.
  2. If you include paragraph 15, click the name of the parent who will be sole guardian of your children. The field updates with the parent's name.

Party 1 and Party 2 are the guardians of the children with parental responsibilities and parenting time as set out in this agreement.

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Name is the sole guardian of the children.

Party 1
Party 2
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Making decisions

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When you and the other parent live together, you're both guardians. And you're jointly responsible for making decisions about your children.

After you separate, you both continue to be guardians unless you agree or a court orders states otherwise. So you need to decide how you'll make major decisions about your children. Under BC law, these decisions are called parental responsibilities. They include decisions about things like:

  • religious upbringing,
  • medical treatment, and
  • where the children will go to school.

You and the other parent may agree to:

  • make these decisions together,
  • have them made by one parent only, or
  • divide the decisions between you.

Day-to-day and emergency decisions are usually made by the parent who's with the children at the time the decision must be made.

For more information, see our fact sheet Parenting apart.

It's also a good idea to include some paragraphs about how you'll resolve any disagreements that come up. This can include mediation, collaborative family law, or a parenting coordinator. For more information see Staying out of court.

  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. For paragraphs 16 – 29:
    • If only one parent is responsible for the scenario described, click that parent's name. The field will update with their name.
    • If both parents are responsible for the scenario described, click Both parties. The field will update accordingly.
  3. For paragraph 35, in the text box, enter any other ways in which you and the other party will resolve differences of opinion.

This is how we have agreed to make decisions:

Day-to-day matters affecting the children, and day-to-day care, control, and supervision of the children — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Where the children will live — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Who the children will live and associate with — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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The children's education — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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The children's participation in extracurricular activities, including the nature, extent, and location of those activities — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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The children's cultural, linguistic, religious, and spiritual upbringing and heritage (including the children's Aboriginal identity) — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Subject to section 17 of the Infants Act, giving, refusing, or withdrawing consent to medical, dental, and other health-related treatments for the children — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Applying for a passport, licence, permit, benefit, privilege, or other thing for the children — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Giving, refusing, or withdrawing consent for the children, if consent is required (for example, for a school trip) — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Receiving and responding to any notice that a parent or guardian is entitled or required by law to receive — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Requesting and receiving from third parties health, education, or other information about the children — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Subject to any applicable provincial laws, starting, defending, compromising, or settling any proceeding related to the children — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Subject to any applicable provincial laws, identifying, advancing, and protecting the children's legal and financial interests — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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Subject to any applicable provincial laws, exercising any other responsibilities reasonably necessary to nurture the children's development — Name

Party 1
Party 2
Both parties
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During the time that the children are living with a parent, that parent can make day-to-day decisions about the children and their activities, like homework, bedtime, and chores.

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If we cannot agree about important decisions about the children, differences of opinion will be resolved through:

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Mediation

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The collaborative law process

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A parenting coordinator

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Other:

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Children's time with parents

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The time that children spend with guardians is called parenting time. The time children spend with non-guardians (who could be parents or others) is called contact. For more information, see our fact sheet Parenting apart.

The parenting schedule that you agree to must be based on what's best for your children. It's also important to think about practical issues in developing a schedule that's best for your children. For example, the following will likely affect the schedule:

  • your work schedules,
  • transportation, and
  • how far you live from the other parent.

Sometimes agreements or orders use language like "reasonable" or "generous" time with a child. This leaves it up to the parents to decide the parenting schedule on a day-to-day basis. While this may work well in some cases, it can cause disputes and conflict in others. It's clearer for everybody if you set out a detailed schedule. But, if your circumstances change and the schedule doesn't work anymore, you'll need to change your agreement or order.

Consider which approach will work best for your family. Remember also that, to meet your children's needs, you might need to be flexible with the schedule at times.

We include some options for parenting schedules. Not all possibilities are covered. More options are covered in the CLEBC Manual.

Regular parenting schedule — Instructions

We provide three options for parenting schedules:

  • alternating weeks
  • a rotation, where the children spend two consecutive days with each parent, then five consecutive days with each parent
  • a rotation over a two week period, where the children spend two consecutive days with one parent, then two consecutive days with the other parent, and then three consecutive days with the first parent
  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. For paragraphs 37 and 38, click the name of the parent the first statement applies to. The field will update with your names in the rotation.
  3. For paragraph 40, click the name of the party the children will primarily live with. The field will update automatically with your names.
  4. For paragraphs 41 – 47, in the text boxes, enter the times for each day when the children will be with the other party.
  5. For paragraphs 48 – 50, enter any other ways in which you and the other party will resolve set out a regular parenting schedule.

Regular parenting schedule

The children will live with:

The children will live alternating weeks with Party 1 and Party 2. If the children are living with Party 1 in a given week, Party 2 will pick the children up on Monday after school, and drop them off at school the following Monday morning.

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The parenting schedule will be on a rotation. The children will stay with Party 1 from Monday after school until Wednesday morning before school. The children will stay with Party 2 from Wednesday after school until Friday before school. The children will then stay with Party 1 from Friday after school until the following Wednesday morning before school. The children will stay with Party 2 from Wednesday after school until the following Monday before school.

Party 1
Party 2
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The parenting schedule will be on a two-week rotation. The children will stay with Party 1 from 6pm on Sunday until Tuesday before school. The children will stay with Party 2 from Tuesday after school until Thursday before school. The children will stay with Party 1 from Thursday after school until 6pm the beginning of week 2. The children will stay with Party 2 from 6pm on that Sunday until Tuesday before school. The children will stay with Party 1 from Tuesday of week 2 until Thursday before school. The children will stay with Party 2 from Thursday after school of week 2 until 6pm the following Sunday.

Party 1
Party 2
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When a parent's time with the children begins after school, that parent is responsible for picking them up at school. When a parent's time ends on a school morning, they are responsible for dropping them off.

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The children will live primarily with Name. Name will have generous parenting time with the children as follows:

Party 1
Party 2
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Monday:

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Tuesday:

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Wednesday:

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Thursday:

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Friday:

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Saturday:

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Sunday:

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Pick up and drop off

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Usually one of the parents is responsible for picking up and dropping off the children during their parenting time. But other arrangements can be made as needed. Sometimes you or the other parent may have to arrange for someone else to pick up or drop off the children. In most cases, this will not cause problems. But perhaps one of you has concerns about who picks up and drops off your children. It's a good idea to discuss this issue and decide how you'll handle it.

The first paragraph below is automatically included.

  1. Decide which of paragraphs 51 and 52 applies to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraph that doesn't apply.
  2. If you include paragraph 52, in the text box, enter the names of the people who may pick up or drop off your children.

Each parent is responsible for driving child/children's names to and from activities, including school, during their parenting time.

If it is not possible for Party 1 or Party 2 to pick up or drop off the children as provided for in the parenting schedule, the parent who is responsible for the pick-up or drop-off may authorize another person who the children know to pick them up or drop them off.

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If it is not possible for Party 1 or Party 2 to pick up or drop off the children as provided for in the parenting schedule, the following people may pick up or drop off the children:

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Vacations, holidays, and special days

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It's important to set out how the regular schedule will change when there's a holiday or special day. It's a good idea to ask your children how they'd like to celebrate holidays or special days. There are many options for how you organize your parenting on those days, including:

  • according to the regular schedule, or
  • in alternating years, or
  • split half and half.

Here are some holidays and special days you might want to include:

  • children's birthdays
  • parents' birthdays
  • Mother's Day
  • Father's Day
  • summer holidays
  • spring break
  • Christmas holidays
  • Thanksgiving
  • Halloween
  • Easter weekend
  • Victoria Day weekend
  1. For paragraphs 53 – 68:
    1. Decide how many events you need to include in your agreement. Click Don't include for any paragraphs that you don't need.
    2. In the text boxes, enter the event, the event's start and end dates, and the details of the arrangement.
  2. Review all of the information you've included throughout this section to make sure it's correct. Then:
    1. Click Open text version. A text copy of this section of the agreement will appear in a new browser window.
    2. Copy and paste the text into a word processor.
    3. Go through the section and number each paragraph/clause. Continue the numbering from where you left off with the previous section. Be sure to save your file.

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