Legal Insights / Fees / Parenting Agreements: time, responsibilities & child support

Parenting Agreements: time, responsibilities & child support

Apr 2 2024

It can take years to reach an agreement relating to all issues arising from the breakdown of a marriage or marriage-like relationship, particularly the longer the relationship lasted. It may be helpful to narrow the issues and reach an agreement specific to parenting time, parental responsibilities and child support. These agreements may also apply where a couple never lived together at all but share a child.

Notably, in order to obtain a divorce in British Columbia, the court needs to be satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place regarding any children of the marriage. This typically means there must be a written agreement or court order in place relating to parenting time and child support. These parenting agreements are be able to be filed in court.

Parenting Time

“Parenting Time” refers to the time a child spends in the care of a parent. It includes time when the parent is not present, such as when the child is at daycare or school. When preparing a parenting agreement, it is a good time to formalize arrangements including when the children are with each parent, what pick up/drop off looks like and how holidays and special occasions are handled like birthdays, spring break, winter vacation and summer.

There are lots of different options for how to arrange parenting time. What works well for your family will depend on a number of factors, including the age of the children, any special needs the children have, and how close the parents are located to each other and any schools or activities the children are enrolled in.

Parental Responsibilities

Section 41 of the BC Family Law Act sets out the general responsibilities the court may divide up if the parents cannot agree. It includes such decisions as:

  • day-to-day care, control and supervision of the child;
  • where the child will reside;
  • with whom the child will live and associate;
  • the child’s education and participation in extracurricular activities;
  • the child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing, including a child’s Indigenous identity if applicable;
  • giving, refusing or withdrawing consent to medical, dental and other health-related treatments;
  • applying for a passport, licence, permit, benefit, privilege or other thing for the child; and
  • requesting and receiving from third parties health, education or other information respecting the child.

Often the parties agree if both parents exercise parenting time then during that time they are able to make day-to-day decisions, while other categories may be more contentious. These responsibilities can either be given to one of the parents alone, or there are other arrangements like requiring the decisions to be made jointly, that one parent must consult the other or that one parent simply has to keep the other parent informed.

Child Support

The basic child support is set out in the federal child support guidelines. In almost all cases, judges are required to follow the guidelines to determine the amount of basic child support. In order to determine the child support obligations, we will need the following information:

  • gross amount of income the paying parent is expected to make;
  • number of children; and
  • paying parent’s province of residence.

Calculating the parents’ income can be complicated, depending on the sources of income. If a parent is strictly an employee and does not have other streams of income (like rental or investments) then it would generally be based on the line 150 income in their most recent tax return. Financial disclosure should take place before any agreement is entered into.

Also, if you share parenting time, which means the child(ren) live with each parent at least 40% of the time, then the child support guidelines do not strictly apply. The parent with the higher support amount typically pays some support to the parent with the lower support amount.

In addition to basic child support, there can be additional responsibilities around special and extraordinary expenses called “Section 7 Expenses” (like activities, childcare or health expenses). Typically, these are paid for in proportion to the parents’ incomes. It is a good idea to have discussions now about what types of activities you are expecting the children to be involved in and come to some agreements around those.


We charge a fee of $1500 plus tax for uncontested parenting agreements.

What this fee includes:

  • One meeting with the lawyer for up to 45 minutes to discuss legal obligations and we will provide guidance regarding financial disclosure required.
  • One additional “signing” meeting of up to 15 minutes (if necessary).
  • Review of financial disclosure (ideally both parents complete a financial statement which can be found with instructions here: Preparing a Financial Statement – Form 4 – 01/2022 (
  • A report containing your child support calculation.
  • Preparation of a parenting agreement plus one set of minor revisions.

These fees do not include costs for negotiating changes to the agreement which we are pleased to offer at hourly rates.


First we will need to confirm who the parties are and that we are able to represent you. Then we will set you up with a member of our Family Law team who will be happy to assist in preparing your parenting agreement. Please contact our Litigation Intake Team at 778.666.3723 or by email at

If you aren’t sure if you want to proceed with a parenting agreement just yet, we are happy to meet with you first for an initial consultation. More information about initial consults can be found on our website here:

What about a separation agreement?

If you’re ready to proceed with a full separation agreement, which typically includes provisions relating to child support, parenting time and parental responsibilities but also includes such additional categories as property division, spousal support and pet custody we are happy to assist. The cost typically ranges from $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the complexity. If there are extensive negotiations the cost may exceed $5,000.

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