Content of a parenting plan: Part one of two

Shando Theron.

What is a parenting plan?

It is a document developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child, and approved by the court, or if the parents cannot agree it is established by the court, which governs the relationship between the parent regarding the child, custody, parental responsibilities and visitations.

Content of a parenting plan

Children still need the love, care and support parents gave them when they were together even though you are now apart. The end of your relationship should not be the end of your parenting relationship. How is this engineered and given legal content?

The law recognises that relationship’s status can change but wants to build in safeguards to protect children in cases where the marriage or relationship came to an end. This is done through the provisions of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, which encourages the development of a parenting plan between the parents.

A parenting plan is a document that safeguards the right of the child to have both parents and extended family (such as grandparents) in their life.

Section 33 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 stipulates the following:

The co-holder of parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child may agree on a parenting plan determining the exercise of their respective responsibilities and rights in respect of the child.

If the co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child are experiencing difficulties in exercising their responsibilities and rights, those persons, before seeking the intervention of a court, must first agree on a parenting plan determining the exercise of their respective responsibilities and rights of the child.

A parenting plan may determine any matter I connection with parental responsibilities and rights, including:

· Where and with whom the child is to live with

· The maintenance of the child

· Contact between the child and any of the parties or any other person

· The schooling and religious upbringing of the child

A parenting plan must comply with the best interest of the child standard as set out in section 7.

In preparing a parenting plan as contemplated in subsection (2) the parties must seek the assistance of a family advocate, social worker or psychologist; or mediation through a social worker or other suitably qualified person.

When do I need a parenting plan?

A parenting plan can be drawn up when one of the following two conditions apply to the parents’ circumstances:

· When the relationship or marriage has come to an end and both parties agree that they want to draw up a parenting plan as part of securing and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities towards their children, or

When one or both parents are experiencing difficulties in exercising their responsibilities and rights they may decide on a parenting plan in order to help make sure that these rights and responsibilities are exercised in respect of the child or children.

A parenting plan can be drawn up at any time after a relationship has come to an end. The best time to develop the plan is before the divorce is finalised. The parenting plan then becomes part of the divorce settlement and the agreements herein concerning the care and contact maintenance, becomes the binding rules for both parents.

A parenting plan can also be drawn up after the parents’ divorce and changes to the divorce settlement regarding the issues concerning the children can be formalised. Parenting plans should be registered either at the Office of the Family Advocate or the Children’s Court who are authorised to make the contents of the plan a legally binding order.

Courtesy: Mpho Mathepe THERON & THERON INC

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Shernovia Reddy

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