Parenting involves two (2) main issues:
- Decision-making authority (custody) – how are major decisions for the child(ren) to be made?
- Parenting time/schedule (access) – when do the child(ren) spend time with each parent?
Parenting is usually the most difficult issue to resolve because:
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach. As a lawyer, I cannot count how many times I have heard, “my friend has X and therefore I should have X.” It does not work this way. Each child is special, and each family is unique.
- It is often an emotionally charged issue. Although the test is what is in the child’s best interests, parents often subjectively feel it is test about themselves.
- The continual contact required to jointly parent leads to more issues. Separating parents know how to push each other’s buttons, so it is even harder to resolve issues when new ones arise.
- There are unlimited parenting issues because child(ren) and the circumstances change. What worked when the parents were together may not apply after separation.
Despite these challenges, parties should reduce their conflict because it is very damaging to children. A lawyer can help with the parenting issues and there are other tools to assist with the conflict:
- The High Conflict Institute  offers:
- Family Services Ottawa  offers various programs and counselling.
If parents are able to negotiate the parenting issues themselves and do not wish to have legal assistance, there are a variety of sources available online:
- Making Plans 
- A guide to parenting arrangements after separation or divorce 
- AFCC Parenting Plan Guide 
 The High Conflict Institute, Family Services Ottawa, Government of Canada, and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Ontario Chapter do not endorse and are not affiliated with OWFL.