Not all holders of parental responsibilities and rights feel that there is a need for a court registered Parenting Plan. Parenting plans should be entered into only if there is a need for it. However, the choice is always there for the parties should they wish to formalise one. The principle of “rather-safe-than-sorry” should be adopted when it comes to drafting of Parenting Plans. Children (and parents) operate so much better when they have a definite framework to work from.

Participation on deciding on a Parenting Plan is however not limited to the holders of parental rights and responsibilities.

Child participation (section 10 of the Children’s Act).

The input of minor children with consideration to their developmental stage and level of maturity, carries considerable weight. The Children’s Act however, makes it clear that the voice and participation of a minor child only relates to their right to be heard and that does not empower him/her to a right of veto or consent. Final decision making is deferred to the parents, who act as legal guardians by law.

Bearing in mind the age, maturity and stage of development it is of the utmost importance that the voice of the child/children be heard during the development of the Parenting Plan and that the views of such a child/children have been given due consideration.

Recognising the child/children’s right to participate is further highlighted in section 31 of the Act, which deals with major decisions involving children by a person holding parental rights and responsibilities.

Third party participation

Some rights may be ceded to a third party if both parents jointly agree, for instance a grandparent (in a Parenting Plan) where the parents are for some reason indisposed or unfit, for instance, where the separating spouses are both addicted to debilitating substances or suffer from a crippling disease.