When parents separate or divorce, one of the most important decisions must be made on how to arrange for the care and access of their children. In many cases, parents can come to a mutual agreement regarding access, but in some cases, disputes may arise. If you are in this situation and are based in Edmonton, Alberta, it is important to understand your legal rights and options for resolving a dispute over parental access.
The Importance of a Parenting Plan Agreement
A parenting plan agreement, also known as parental access or a custody agreement, is a document that sets out the details of how parents will share the responsibilities of caring for their children. This can include how much time the children will spend with each parent, who will be responsible for making decisions about their upbringing, and how disputes will be resolved.
A clear and legally binding agreement can help ensure that both parents maintain a meaningful relationship with their children while providing stability and security. However, disputes can still arise, even when an agreement is in place.
Common Reasons for Disputes in Parenting Plan Agreements
There are various reasons why a parenting plan agreement might be disputed. Some of the most common include:
- Disagreements over the amount of time the child will spend with each parent: One parent may feel that they are not getting enough time with the child, while the other parent may feel that they are being asked to spend more time with the child than they are comfortable with.
- Disagreements over decision-making: Parents may disagree over who should be responsible for making decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as their education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities.
- Disagreements over the child’s residence: Parents may disagree over where the child should live or over whether the child should be able to move between the two homes.
- Changes in circumstances: A change in circumstances, such as one parent moving away or changing jobs, can lead to a dispute over the terms of the original agreement.
- Allegations of abuse or neglect: If one parent has concerns about the other parent’s ability to care for the child, or if there are allegations of abuse or neglect, this can lead to a dispute over access.
- Difficulty in communication: Sometimes, parents may find it difficult to communicate with each other, which can make it challenging to resolve disputes.
It’s important to note that these are not the only reasons that can lead to disputes, but they are some of the most common. If a dispute arises, it’s important to seek legal advice and representation to navigate and resolve the dispute in the child’s best interest.
Understanding the Legal Process for Disputing Parenting Plan Agreements
If you are in a situation where you are disputing a parenting plan agreement, it is important to understand the legal process that you will be going through. The first step is to try and resolve the dispute through mediation, a process where a neutral third party helps the parties to agree.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the next step is to take the matter to court. The court will consider the child’s best interests when deciding the dispute. This will consider the child’s relationship with each parent, needs, and other relevant factors.
It is important to note that, in Alberta, the Family Law Act requires that the court consider the child’s physical, emotional, psychological, and educational needs and any special needs the child may have. It also requires that the court consider the child’s views and preferences if they are mature enough to express them.
The Role of a Lawyer in Dispute Resolution
Seeking legal advice and representation if you are disputing a parenting plan agreement is advisable. A lawyer will be able to guide you through the legal process and help you to understand your rights and options. They will also be able to represent you in court if necessary.
A lawyer can advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case and can help you negotiate an agreement that is in your child’s best interests. They will also be able to guide what to expect in court and help you prepare for a court hearing.
Disputing a parenting plan agreement can be a difficult and emotional process, but it is essential to remember that the ultimate goal is to ensure that the best interests of the child are met. By understanding the legal process and seeking the advice of a lawyer, you can navigate the system and work towards a resolution that is in your child’s best interests.