A parenting plan is an important by-product of the divorce mediation process. It is an essential tool required to ensure a cohesive and sustainable co-parenting relationship that works in the best interests of the children involved. Parenting plans are aimed at minimising the inevitable impact and disruption that the divorce will have on the children, and is the quickest and easiest way of implementing new routines while addressing any uncertainty children may feel throughout the process, and thus eliminating as many external stressors as possible. The goal is to provide your children with a sense of normalcy as quickly and easily as possible.
A parenting plan can be drawn up by a mediator, family psychologist or attorney, and is designed to address the following in detail, so as to make sure that both parents are on the same page:
- Children’s living arrangements i.e. which parent/guardian has them & when.
- Child maintenance
- Children’s schedules and parental contact
- Emergency care protocols
- Anything else pertinent to the children’s’ upbringing i.e. schooling, extracurricular activities, ideological or religious commitments, discipline etc.
A solid and thorough parenting plan will assist with establishing clear parental channels of communication. Consistency and stability are paramount for a parenting plan to be successful. A parenting plan, much like a mediated divorce, is all about tailoring an agreement that is best suited to the parties involved. The key point of difference however, is that a parenting plan must be drawn up in such a way so that it serves in the ‘best interests of the child’ in accordance with the South African Children’s Act 38 of 2005.
While formulating your parenting plan, it is important not to lose sight of the dependents that you are building your plan around. The children affected need to be a part of the mediation process as their views on the intended plan will be taken into account and given due consideration, as will their respective ages and therefore their reasoning capabilities at that age. With this particular point in mind, parenting plans will need to be reviewed as the children get older or if parental/guardian circumstances change. A parenting plan becomes a legally binding document once it is officially made an order by the court.
At Joselowitz & Andrews Attorneys we understand the sensitive nature of separation and divorce cases, especially those that involve children. Therefore we work hand in hand with social workers and psychologists to ensure that your children’s best interests remain the central focus.