– sA parenting plan is a written agreement between two people/parents who hold parental rights and responsibilities. It forms part of your divorce papers when there are minor children (under the age of 18) involved.
The Family Advocate will endorse (approve) the parenting plan before the Court will make it a Court Order (as part of your divorce). Your parenting plan should describe the following aspects:
Parenting Plan: Guardianship
A child’s guardian is the person who has the rights and responsibilities to take care of the personal and property interests of that child.
Section 18(3) of the Children’s Act states that a parent and other people who act as guardians of a child must administer and safeguard the child’s property and property interests and assist or represent the child in administrative, contractual and other legal matters. A guardian must also give or refuse consent before a child can be adopted, get married, depart from the Republic of South Africa, or apply for a passport.
There are two types of guardianship: sole guardianship and co-guardianship. In most uncontested divorce matters the parties/parents will remain co-guardians of the children.
Parenting Plan: Residence & Contact
Who will be the parent of primary residence? Who will be the parent of alternate residence? When and where will I see the children? With whom will the children spend their weekends, holidays and birthdays?
These are some of the questions that will be addressed in the parenting plan. A well-drafted parenting plan in plain language will give proper guidance and avoid unnecessary confusion in the future.
Parenting Plan: Joint Decisions
Certain decisions must be made by both parents. A good parenting plan lists the circumstances in which joint decision-making is required. Decisions about schooling, medical care and the children’s residence are usually included in this category.
Parenting Plan: Dispute & Conflict Resolution
What happens if there are care or contact disputes after the divorce has been finalised? The parenting plan will describe the out-of-court process that must be followed in case of any such disputes.
The Best Interest of Your Children
The purpose of a parenting plan is to regulate the responsibilities and rights that co-holders of parental rights have in respect of minor children, and to ensure that your children’s best interests are secured. Both parents should stay actively involved in the lives of the children after divorce, unless such involvement is not in the best interest of your children.
“Co-parenting is not a competition. It’s a collaboration of two homes working together with the best interest of the child at heart.” (Unknown)
Nazli Williams (BCom LLB), the director of Patton Williams Attorneys, is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, specializing in Divorce and Family Law matters. Her fields of expertise and interest include Divorce Law, Family Law, Domestic Violence Law and International Divorce Law. Her vision is to demystify Family Law processes, helping good people in plain language and with great technology, to achieve remarkable results.