Parental Responsibility

Whether married or not, co-holders of parental responsibility are obliged to devise a parenting plan before approaching the court for relief. This can be done through mediation by a social worker or other suitably qualified persons, including an attorney who is an accredited divorce mediator.  

The Children's Act seeks to promote a problem-solving approach to family law as opposed the traditional but often destructive confrontational approach. Section 33 of the Act provides for the formalities and contents of such parenting plan:

Contents of parenting plans

 

1)     The co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child may agree on a parenting plan determining the exercise of their respective responsibilities and rights in respect of the child.

 

2)      If the co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child are experiencing difficulties in exercising their responsibilities and rights, those persons, before seeking the intervention of a court, must first seek to agree on a parenting plan determining the exercise of their respective responsibilities and rights in respect of the child.

 

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

 

a)      where and with whom the child is to live;

b)      the maintenance of the child;

c)      contact between the child and-

i)       any of the parties; and

ii)      any other person; and

d)      the schooling and religious upbringing of the child.

 

4)      A parenting plan must comply with the best interests of the child standard as set out in section 7.

 

5)      In preparing a parenting plan as contemplated in subsection (2) the parties must seek-

 

a)      the assistance of a family advocate, social worker or psychologist; or

b)      mediation through a social worker or other suitably qualified person.

 

 Author : Roy Bregman