Leading the way for other courts to follow, the Bombay High Court has issued instructions to the Family Court with regards to adopting Joint Parenting Plan in divorce cases.
Accordingly, the Family Court Mumbai on March 4, 2022 has introduced a circular listing down #SharedParenting Plan in Custody/Access cases.
The circular reads as below:
Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the above referred judgment has suggested and held the following things :-
A] The Law Commission has elaborated the parameters in respect of the child custody. The Law Commission has also suggested that the concept of shared custody can be sown and saplings can be planted in the minds of the parents, so that the fruits of the company of both the parents can be enjoyed by a child of the warring parents.
B] The Hon’ble Bombay High Court has observed in the above referred judgment that a Parenting Plan is a mutual arrangement of custody and access, which is an outcome of a matured parenting. The ideal situation is that joint parenting is a rule and single parenting is an exception. When both parents are available, their association with the child cannot be artificially denied only due to fights, hatred and vindictive approach of the parents.
C] The Hon’ble Bombay High Court has further held that though it is not mandatory that all the parents should adopt a Parenting Plan, it is advisable that the Family Court to invite them to consider Parenting Plan in the cases found suitable .The Law Commission of India has taken formal cognizance of the legal rights involved in joint parenting. This, of course, may be attuned to the circumstances of particular case and must account for the special needs of a particular child.
2. WHEREAS, considering the above judgment of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the case of Ubale Vs. Ubale (Supra) and considering the provisions contained in Section 9 of The Family Courts Act, 1984, it is the duty of all duty holders of Family Court to see that there is an amicable settlement of ‘lis’ pertaining to the issue of custody and access for the benefit of the child, it is necessary to introduce a “Parenting Plan” to the parties and their Ld. counsel to explore the possibility of having an amicable arrangement in respect of custody ,access . The Draft parenting plan is enclosed herewith at Annexure ‘A’ for the benefit of the litigants.
3. Therefore, it is hereby directed that the office shall upload a Draft Parenting Plan in an editable downloadable form, which can be easily downloaded from the website of the Family Court, Mumbai and easily filled as per the convenience of the parties at their homes or the offices of the Ld. counsel or during counseling sessions before the Marriage Counselor.
4. The office shall upload such an editable word document of Draft Parenting Plan, so that parties can easily make appropriate changes to suit their individual cases and submit it in court.
5. Marriage Counsellors, Ld. counsel of the parties and the Courts shall endeavour to introduce this Draft Parenting Plan o the parties , so as to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement.
6. A Draft Parenting Plan is annexed with this Circular as Annexure ‘A’ for the benefit of all the duty holders of the Family Court, Mumbai
Some of the parameters included in the Parenting Plan draft include:
- Parenting Time (Physical Custody)
- Visitation / Access
- School Holidays / Vacations / Festivals
- Child Support / Maintenance
- Schools Attended & Access To Records
- Physical & Mental Health Care
- Contact Information / Relocation
- Activities / School Functions
- Overnights & Visitation
- Contact With Relatives & Significant Others
Importantly, the court also includes:
- “Custodial Parent Cannot Change Name of Child Given Formally by both Parents Which Includes Name & Surname of Father (without consent of non-custodial parent)”
- “Non-custodial parent to be informed if child is removed from day care school”
- “Remarriage of ANY spouse will not affect this parenting plan”
- “If Court finds that a parent willfully failed to appear without good reason, the Court, upon motion may pass appropriate order”
- “Non-Compliance of Parenting Plan may amount to breach of trust and parents are required to approach court for appropriate action”
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