Parenting Plan

What is a parenting plan and is it a legally binding document?

A parenting plan are agreements reached in family dispute resolution by two parties who have separated or divorced, and while not legally binding can be turned into consent orders if required.

 

These are 2 questions I get asked a lot. This article should help to dispel any fear or confusion you may have about parenting plans, often based on misinformation you may have heard. Once a relationship ends and children are involved, then a parenting plan is one of the best things you and your former partner can have in place. A well thought out plan is one that will assist you in working collaboratively, as parents, across two households. Most importantly, a well thought out plan, will be one that puts your children's needs above all else. A parenting plans is a flexible document which can be reviewed at any time. Reviewing a parenting plan should be considered when the agreements on your current plan are no longer suitable to your needs, due to a change of circumstances to the child or either parent. When yours and your child's needs change, and they will, update the parenting plan to reflect the changes. Keep the parenting plan relevant. 

 

Outcome of agreements in Family Dispute Resolution

  • Keep the agreement as an informal agreement
  • Turn this agreement into a parenting plan which, although not a legally binding document, with a Certificate Section 60I, you can turn the parenting plan into a legally binding consent order.
  • Apply for a consent order

A parenting plan as described in the Family Law Act Section 63 (c) states

  • An agreement becomes a parenting plan once each parent signs and dates the summary of their agreement.
  • You must sign the agreement freely and voluntarily without threat, duress or coercion.
  • This plan can be changed as long as the change is documented, it has the agreement of both parents and you each sign and date the revised parenting plan.
  • This form of parenting plan although not a legal document will be taken into account by the Court when making any subsequent parenting order.

Make your parenting agreement legally binding by applying for a Consent Order

  • You can apply to the Court directly or ask your lawyer to formalise the agreement into a legally binding consent order.
  • The term 'consent order' means that each parent has agreed to the contents of the order. Once made, consent orders must be complied with.

A parenting plan may include:

  • How parental responsibility is shared
  • How parental decisions are to be made
  • Who the child lives with
  • The time the child spends with others including extended family
  • Changeovers and pick ups
  • Religious, health, cultural, educational and other matters
  • Financial support for the child
  • Maintenance: CSA private agreement only
  • Safety concerns or caveats; travel plans
  • How and when of parent - parent and parent child communication.
  • A mechanism for resolving disputes and or reviewing plans
  • Sharing information in regard to these and any other matters
  • Any other mutual issues relating to the child.

 Different strokes for different folks

Not one size fits all family members : tailor plans to suit yours and your child's needs.