You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

Fl Dad

The end of a relationship can be difficult for everyone involved, often making it very challenging to set aside emotions and determine future arrangements that are in the best interests of the children.

When setting out arrangements for children, separated parties have the option of obtaining parenting orders (by agreement if possible) or entering into a less formal parenting plan. In deciding which option is most suitable, it is first important to understand the difference.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement that is dated and signed by both parties. There is no standard form of preparation, making it very easy to execute.

A parenting plan can address a range of issues including who the child lives with, who the child spends time with, allocation of parental responsibility, arrangements for special days such as birthdays and holidays as well as procedures for making long-term decisions regarding the care, welfare and development of the child. It is also advisable to include procedures for varying the plan and resolving any disputes about the terms of the plan.

A parenting plan is not legally enforceable. However, if a parenting plan is made and the case eventually goes before the court, the court must consider the terms of the latest parenting plan when making parenting orders. It is not bound by the terms of the parenting plan. Additionally, it is important to note that parties can agree to change arrangements in a parenting order by entering into a subsequent parenting plan. If this is done, parties may not be able to rely on parts of the previous parenting order that are inconsistent with the current parenting plan.

Application for Parenting Orders

If parties are able to reach an agreement, they always have the option of having the agreement approved by the Family Court by filing an Application for Consent Orders. This is a relatively simple process involving submitting an agreement to the court for approval by the Registrar. If the Registrar is satisfied that the agreement is in the child’s best interests, Court Orders will be made in accordance with the agreement.

An agreement between the parties that is approved by the court has the same effect as an order made by a court following a hearing. This means that if either party breaches a term of the order, then consequences can apply for the contravening party.

With the flexibility of a parenting plan and the legal enforceability of a parenting order, it is clear there are advantages to both options. The first recommendation is always that parties attempt to reach an agreement on their own and if successful, consider whether the agreement needs to be enforceable in the Family Courts.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Family Law
Is your inheritance protected?

Once you have made the choice to separate, it is likely you have started the difficult process of deciding how to divide your assets. For most people, this process begins with a ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ approach, whereby you separate assets into certain baskets depending on who they belong to. Regardless of your process, it is vital at this stage to receive legal advice to ascertain exactly what it is you are entitled to. It is possible what you want, and what you are entitled to, may be two very different realities. The Family Law Act gives the family courts broad discretion to make orders in relation to financial cases, including orders for dividing assets between parties. Whether you...

Istock 476824114 Blog
Family Law
Four key facts you need to know about your property settlement

When a marriage or a de facto relationship ends, the parties need to finalise their financial ties with one another. This may involve the transfer of ownership of real estate, cash, superannuation or other property from one party to another. For example, if the matrimonial home is in joint names the parties may agree that the house be sold and the proceeds divided. Alternatively, the parties may agree that one party receives the house and makes a cash payment of some nature to the other party to ‘buy out’ their interest. When you are separating, it is important to get legal advice from a Solicitor specialising in family law, in order to determine your entitlements. Any agreement reached...

105625090 Blog
Family Law
Can I change the locks?

“Can I change the locks?” – This must be one of the most common questions addressed by any family lawyer. The simple answer to whether a party going through separation can change the locks on a property they are living in is usually “yes”. If there is no court order which affects that person’s right to occupy the property, then in most circumstances there is little prohibiting a party from changing the locks. However the position can differ slightly depending on, which party legally owns the property. Where the property is owned by both parties Where the property is owned by one party Where the property is leased to you In all circumstances Perhaps the question asked should not...

Istock 475237296 Blog

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.