When minor children are involved in divorce proceedings, parents need to draft a parenting plan to regulate the exercise of their rights and responsibilities with regards to the minor children before they will be able to approach the court for a divorce.
Legislation discourages parties to approach the court with problems relating to exercising their rights with regards to the children if they do not try to mediate first. Their legal practitioner, social worker, a mediator or the family advocate or any other qualified person can assist with the drafting of a proper parenting plan.
Mediation aids in resolving a divorce in the best way possible, therefore aiding to achieve what is in the best interest of the children. The harsh truth and reality are that there is no real winner in a divorce. Drafting and agreeing to a fair parenting plan, helps all the parties and specifically the children involved, to walk out of the divorce with as little as possible aggression, emotional and other problems. It also helps to save money, as the legal fees are limited when the parties decide to settle the divorce fairly.
A parenting plan can be lodged with the office of the Family Advocate and the parties can request that the parenting plan be made an order of court. Should any of the parties breach the stipulations contained therein, the affected party can approach the court and lay a complaint of contempt of court against the offending party. It is possible to revise the plan yearly or any other period agreed upon.
The co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights, the child or a person acting in the child’s interests may also approach a court to make changes to an existing parenting plan.
A good parenting plan will address the following:
where and with whom the child is to live;
the maintenance and medical needs of the child;
contact between the child and any other person (including new third parties); and
the schooling and religious upbringing and disciplining of the child.
It is always in all the parties involved in a divorce best interest to invest in a properly drafted parenting plan and to insist that it be made an order of court.