1) What is a Parenting Plan
A Parenting Plan is a mediated agreement between 2 co-holders of parental rights regarding the care, contact, and maintenance of the children concerned.
2) When do I need a Parenting Plan
Parenting Plans are recommended whenever there is a need for parental parties to have divided time with their respective children.
Such circumstances include but are not limited to:
- Parental Divorce or Separation
- Biological, Foster and/or Adoptive Parents requesting access to the children concerned.
It is recommended that parenting plans are sought-after as soon as a separation or complex co-parenting arrangement is speculated. This is for the sake of ensuring the children will remain sufficiently connected to and cared for by all parental parties concerned.
3) The Process of Obtaining a Parenting Plan
Parenting Plans can be maintained one of 3 ways:
1) self-service plan between co-holders of parental rights and responsibilities either via verbal or written agreement. Self-service plans do not involve an objective third party to mediate and are based on trusting the other party to honour their part of the agreement.
2) by approaching a qualified social worker, psychologist, lawyer, or mediator to help you mediate the contents of the plan.
3) or, by approaching the local Magistrate’s Court for Application 14(1) requesting a hearing in front of the magistrate who will rule in favour of the parenting plan process either by means of a referral to a court-appointed mediator or litigation.
Irrespective of how a plan is developed, it is recommended that it is made an order of court by means of submitting the plan to the local family court along with Application Form 14(1). As an order of court, the document becomes a legally binding contract with legal ramifications available to the parental parties should the other parent chose to deviate from the plan.
Mediation for a Parenting Plan is a prerequisite for litigation for a parenting plan according to our Justice System and guiding act- The Children’s Act. The Act discourages co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights from approaching the court as a first resort when they experience difficulties in exercising those responsibilities and rights. Mediation, in comparison to litigation, is less expensive, less time-consuming, and less traumatic for the children and co-holders of parental rights and responsibilities in question. It is about sitting down and making compromises for the best interests of the child.
4) The Benefits of a Parenting Plan
Parenting Plans are first and foremost beneficial to the children as they remain in contact with each respective parental party, therefore, affording them the opportunity to grow their relationship with each parental party despite whatever conflict may remain between parental parties.
Parenting Plans are also beneficial for parental parties concerned as they provide a framework for your contact time with the children concerned. Within this framework, a parent may freely connect with their child without the fear of the other parental party questioning or denying them access to the children.
In the same breath, Parenting Plans also offer accountability to parents who deviate from the contact framework and when made an order of court, attach legal ramifications to deviation from the plan.
5) The Contents of the Parenting Plan
Parenting Plans differ according to the unique needs of your children and co-parenting capacities. At its simplest form, a Parenting Plan stipulates the care and contact arrangements- in simple terms, the amount of time the children will spend with each parental party.
In the event of the 2-hour court-ordered mediation, it is most likely that care and contact arrangements are the focal point and often the only point mediated and noted in the Parenting Plan.
More extensive mediation processes where multiple sessions are booked with a private mediator or NPO mediation body like FAMSA, allow clients to mediate more comprehensively and specifically,
A more comprehensive plan could consist of any of the following:
Care & Contact- Face to face and virtual contact
Religious and Cultural Upbringing
Social Media Presence
Contact with extended family and future romantic partners
Dispute Resolution and,
The Voice of the Child
At The Connect Group, we firmly believe in comprehensive mediation and Parenting Plans thereby decreasing the risk of future conflicts and misinterpretation of the plan. We, therefore, assess for parental conflict as comprehensively as possible by means of the parenting plan template attached below.