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Report No. 257

VIII. Parenting Plan

(1) The objectives of a parenting plan are to-

(a) minimise the child's exposure to harmful parental conflict; and

(b) encourage parents to mutually agree on the division of responsibilities of the child's upbringing through agreements in the parenting plan, rather than by relying on court intervention.

(2) In designing a parenting plan, the parents must ensure that it is for the welfare of the child, and that-

a. the day-to-day needs of the child are met;

b. any special needs that the child may have are met;

c. the child gets to spend sufficient time with each parent so as to get to know each parent, as far as possible;

d. there is minimal disruption to the child's education, daily routine and association with family and friends; and

e. transitions from one parental home to another are carried out safely and, effectively.

(3) A parenting plan may deal with one or more of the following, namely:-

a. the parent or parents with whom the child is to live;

b. the time the child is to spend with the other parent;

c. the allocation of parental responsibility for the child;

d. the manner in which the parents are to consult with each other about decisions relating to parental responsibility;

e. the communication the child is to have with other persons;

f. maintenance of the child;

g. the process to be used for resolving disputes about the terms or operation of the plan;

h. the process to be used for changing the plan to take account of the changing needs or circumstances of the child or the parties to the plan;

i. any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for the child.

(4) The parenting plan must be voluntarily and knowingly arrived at by each parent.

(5) The court shall not ordinarily interfere with the division of responsibilities between parents reflected in the parenting plan, unless they are ex facie inequitable.

(6) If the initial parenting plan does not cover certain issues, the parents may approach the court to modify the terms of the plan to address new subjects of decision-making.

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