The Children's Act 38 of 2005, as amended (hereafter the “Children's Act”), offers parenting plans as a mechanism to assist parents with how to exercise their parental responsibilities and rights after separation or divorce. A parenting plan must comply with the best interests of the child standard as set out in section 7 of the Children's Act. Keeping in mind the age, maturity, and developmental stage of the child, the child must be afforded the opportunity to express his or her views which are then given due consideration.
As a co-parenting solution, it is a written agreement, drafted by both parents with the assistance of an impartial third party, usually a family advocate, social worker or a psychologist. Once signed, the parenting plan must be registered with either the family advocate's office or the court.
The parenting plan seeks to address the following issues:
- Where and with whom the child is to live;
- Maintenance of the child;
- Contact between the child and any other person; and
- Schooling and religious upbringing of the child.
Additionally, a parenting plan shall include a dispute resolution clause, whereby a mediator shall be appointed to address any disputes that may occur between the parents.
Parenting plans registered with a family advocate may be amended or terminated by the family advocate upon application by the co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights who are parties to the plan.
A parenting plan that was made an order of court may be amended or terminated only by an order of court upon application by the co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights who are parties to the plan, by the child, acting with leave of the court or in the child's interest, by any other person acting with leave of the court.
There are an infinite number of possibilities available when drawing up a parenting plan. The bottom line is to find a plan that works for the whole family.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.