Child Custody and Parenting

Child Custody and Parenting – Families and the Law

This booklet explains the law about custody and parenting in Alberta. There is information about:

  • custody
  • guardianship
  • parenting plans
  • how to make agreements with the other parent
  • common problems and suggestions on how to resolve them

We’ve also included some tips and hints that will help you if you are representing yourself in an application.

Who is this booklet for?

This booklet explains the law and parenting in Alberta. There is information about custody and guardianship, parenting plans, how to make agreements with the other parent, common problems and suggestions on how to resolve them.

Family law is complicated. Finding out about the law and your options is a very good first step. There are a lot of people and organizations who can help you. We’ve listed these referrals at the back of this booklet.

There are other booklets in this series that can help you. Go to to find out more.

There are things that you can do to help your children.

  • Explain to the children that the break up is between the adults and that it is not their fault. Keep explaining this to your children as they will need to hear that often.
  • Tell them that you both still love them and that you will always be a family.
  • Don’t blame the other parent in front of the children.
  • Give lots of affection.
  • Let anyone who looks after the children (teachers, day care) know about the break up and ask them to give the children extra attention.
There is a Parenting After Separation course that most parents attend when they are making arrangements for children. Find more information about the course at .


Resources: Additional resources and useful links where you can find more information.
Definition: Definitions of some of the common terms used throughout the document.
Tip: Tips and things to consider that may apply to your situation.


The Laws

  • What laws apply to parenting?
  • Which level of court do I use?

The Legal Terms

  • What are the legal words that explain parenting?
  • The Divorce Act and Parenting
  • The Family Law Act and Parenting
  • What is a parenting plan?

Making a Parenting Plan

  • How can we make a parenting agreement?
  • Do I need to hire a lawyer to help me?
  • How do I make an agreement legal?

Parenting and the Courts

  • How does a judge decide what to order when it comes to parenting?
  • Can the children have a say in the parenting plan?
  • The other guardian ended our relationship. Can they still apply for a parenting order?
  • Where will the children live while we wait to go to court?

Living with a Judge’s Decision

  • What can I do if I don’t agree with the judge?
  • What can you do in situations concerning the other guardian?

Changing an Agreement or Order

  • Can we change the court order?
  • Can we change the parenting agreement?
  • Can we change a court order informally?

Traveling with Children

  • Do the children need passports to travel with me?
  • Can I apply for a passport for my children?
  • Do I need the consent of the other guardians to apply for the children’s passports?
  • Do I need a letter to travel outside of Canada with the children?
  • Does the letter have to be witnessed?
  • What can I do if the other guardian refuses to provide consent for the passport, or the letter?
  • What can I do if I think the other parent is not going to bring the children back?

Moving with the Children

  • Can I move with my children?
  • What should I do first?
  • Do I have to give the other guardian notice of the move?
  • What if the other guardian doesn’t want me to move with the children?

This booklet is based on Alberta law. The law may be different in other provinces.

You should NOT rely on this webpage for legal advice. It provides general information on Alberta law only. March 2018.

For COVID-19 information 
see the:
COVID-19 Alberta Law FAQ

Changes to Family Law in Alberta …..

The laws about property division for unmarried couples changed on January 1, 2020.
The new rules are similar to those that apply to married couples.
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