Parenting Plans

Family Figures on Calendar Page

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement between co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights, outlining in detail their respective responsibilities and rights of care, contact, guardianship and maintenance with regard to a child.

What must a Parenting Plan deal with?

A parenting plan may determine any matter in connection with parental responsibilities and rights, including:

  • Where and with whom the child is to live
  • The maintenance of the child
  • Contact between the child and
    • any of the parties
    • any other person
    • the schooling and religious upbringing of the child

Optional Parenting Plans

This situation would apply when the parties want to have a structured parental plan in place but none of them intends to go to court on any issue. This optional situation may apply where the parents of the child do not live together and there is no document in place regulating their respective care and contact responsibilities and rights in respect of their child.

Mandatory Parenting Plans

This situation would apply when the parties are experiencing difficulties in exercising their responsibilities and rights. In this case the Children’s Act (act 38 of 2005), prescribes to them to first try to agree on a parenting plan before going to court.

Child Participation

The regulations of the Children’s Act prescribe child participation, bearing in mind the child’s age, maturity and stage of development and, a parenting plan can only be registered with the family advocate or made an order of court if the parties complied with the aforementioned.

Approval of Parenting Plans in Court

Should parents agree on a proposed parenting plan, the court will usually approve it. If the parents do not agree, the court will decide on a parenting plan after a hearing or trial. The court looks at various factors when coming to a decision, but the most critical issue is that the plan serves the best interest of the child.

Enforcement of the Parenting Plan

Once the court signs a parenting plan, both parents must adhere to it. If one party does not adhere to the agreements of the parenting plan, the parent may be found in contempt of court and the court could order jail time, fines or another type of punishment.

Is it possible to alter a permanent Parenting Plan?

It is difficult to alter a parenting plan after it is final. Usually, it may be changed if the parents agree to the change. If the parents do not agree, the court may make major adjustments only if major change has occurred in the child’s life or the other parent’s since the original parenting plan was final.


This article, courtesy of Adell-Mari Wolmarans, originally appeared on Medio Divorce & Family Mediators‘ – and Wolmarans Attorneys‘ website.

Posted by Sinta Ebersohn (Creator of – Pretoria RSA)