Mediation and Parenting Plans


Mediation and Parenting Plans

The Children’s Act offers parenting plans as a method to assist parents with how to exercise their parental responsibilities and rights after separation or divorce.  A parenting plan sets out how parents will exercise their respective responsibilities and rights. It must comply with the best interests of the child principle as set out in the Act, and must be in terms of a prescribed form and include the following issues:

  • where and with whom the child is to live;
  • the maintenance of the child;
  • contact between the child and any other person; and
  • the schooling and religious upbringing of the child.

A parenting plan is essentially a road-map directing how children will be raised after separation or divorce. As a co-parenting solution, it is a written agreement drafted by both parents with the help of a neutral third party, usually a social worker, psychologist or family lawyer, acting as a mediator. The Act requires that children also be consulted when such a plan is drafted so that they have an opportunity to give their input on who they wish to live with, how much time they wish to spend with each parent and where they wish to spend special occasions, as well as any other areas in which they feel they should have a say. The age of the child will determine the level of input allowed/ required. Once the plan is finalized, it is signed by both parents. Parenting plans need to be continually reviewed, as children’s developmental needs change over time. Reviews can range from every six months to every two years, depending on the child’s age.