Settlement Agreements and Parenting Plans

Our practice

Regarding parenting plans, Sections 33 and 34 of this legislation introduce the concept of “parenting plans.” These plans can be established voluntarily or may be mandated in cases of disputes, and they should be created by parents, legal professionals, social workers, psychologists, or qualified individuals, following the guidelines of the Act.

Although the Act doesn’t provide a precise definition of a parenting plan, it can be understood as a written agreement between parents who share parental responsibilities and rights. This agreement thoroughly outlines their respective roles and entitlements concerning the care, visitation, guardianship, and financial support of their child.

Section 33 of the Act outlines two scenarios in which a parenting plan comes into effect: the optional situation and the mandatory situation. The optional situation arises when parties want to establish a structured parenting plan without involving the court, while the mandatory situation applies when parties, facing challenges in exercising their parental responsibilities and rights, are encouraged to agree on a parenting plan before turning to court intervention.

The specific contents of the parenting plan can vary, but it must cover essential aspects related to parental responsibilities and rights. These may include the child’s living arrangements, financial support, visitation rights, educational decisions, and religious upbringing.

Furthermore, the Act mandates that children, considering their age, maturity, and developmental stage, should be consulted during the creation of the parenting plan. They must also be informed about the plan’s contents once an agreement is reached, in accordance with Regulation 11.

Section 34 outlines the formalities necessary for registering a parenting plan with the family advocate or obtaining court approval. Once a parenting plan is formalized, it must align with the Act’s principle of acting in the child’s best interest, as outlined in Section 7.

If parents can agree on a proposed parenting plan, the court is likely to approve it. However, in cases where there is no consensus, the court will determine the parenting plan after a hearing or trial, with the primary concern being the child’s best interests.

After court approval, both parents are obligated to follow the parenting plan. For instance, a parent cannot deny the other parent access to the child due to outstanding child support.

Failure to comply with the parenting plan may lead to a contempt of court finding, resulting in potential consequences such as imprisonment, fines, or other forms of punishment.

contract represents a legally binding arrangement between parties, encompassing mutual rights and responsibilities. To establish a valid contract, specific requirements must be met, which are as follows:

Legality and Capacity:

The contract must adhere to the law, and all parties involved must possess the ability to comprehend its terms and implications. Parties should also act without coercion, exercising free will.

Meeting of Minds:

All essential terms of the contract must be agreed upon by the parties. They must have the intent to enter into the contract and abide by its conditions.

Offer and Acceptance:

The contract necessitates a clear and definite offer, met with unconditional and unequivocal acceptance.


Parties must receive something of value in exchange for their obligations.


The contract’s terms must be specific and capable of performance. The agreement must conform to relevant formalities dictated by the nature of the agreement and applicable laws

It’s important to note that verbal contracts can be valid if they meet the criteria above, although proving their existence and validity in a dispute can be challenging.

Reducing contracts to written form is advisable when possible, ensuring that the essential terms are clearly stated. Some contracts have specific formal requirements; failing to meet these requirements may render the contract unenforceable. Such contracts include land purchases, antenuptial agreements, long-term lease agreements registered in the deeds office, and suretyship agreements.

When a party breaches a contract by failing to fulfill its obligations, it may be given an opportunity to rectify the breach. However, a material breach can result in contract termination and a claim for restitution or damages.

Signing a written contract implies that you have read and understood its terms, and your signature confirms your acceptance and intention to be bound. Nevertheless, a party isn’t obligated to an agreement if the other party deliberately misrepresented facts to induce the contract. Such misrepresentation can render the contract void or voidable at the discretion of the innocent party.

Attempting to draft your own contracts to save on legal expenses may seem appealing, but remember the “contra proferentum rule,” which means that any ambiguities in the contract will be interpreted against the drafter in case of a dispute. Therefore, it’s prudent to have an experienced attorney draft or review contract terms to ensure clarity and potentially save you from costly and protracted legal battles in the future. In the words of Warren Buffet, “It is impossible to unsign a contract, so do your thinking before you sign.”

Solution Driven

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Areas of experties

  • Advice on Matrimonial Systems
  • Antenuptial Contracts
  • Co-habitation agreements, domestic relations, same sex relationships
  • Divorce Law and Family Law
  • Divorce Mediation
  • Parenting Plans, Custody (care and contact) of children
  • Parental Responsibilities and Rights
  • Parental Alienation
  • Relocation
  • Unmarried Fathers’ Rights and Access to Children
  • Domestic Abuse, Harassment, Interdicts and Protections Orders

Our practice areas

Our family law litigation department is one of our flagship divisions, with immeasurable experience when dealing with both family and matrimonial matters. However, our skills are not limited thereto. We are well equipped to act on behalf of our client and parties in the relevant proceedings in an amicable manner.