Parenting plans Parenting plans

Parenting plans

The Family Law Act 1975 compels advisors (solicitors, family counsellors, family dispute resolution practitioners, family consultants etc.) who provide advice or assistance to people in relation to children’s issues to:

  • Inform the party about the option of entering into a parenting plan in relation to the children.
  • Advise the party where they can get further assistance to develop a parenting plan and advise them that if the children are spending equal time with both parents, and this is reasonably practicable and in the best interests of the children, then a parenting plan of that kind should be considered. If that type of arrangement is not reasonably practicable or in the children’s best interests, the advisor must tell the party that they should consider the children spending substantial and significant time with each of the parents, again subject to considerations of practicality and the children’s best interests.

Substantial and significant time is more than just weekends and holidays and involves participating in the children’s day-to-day activities and includes a mix of night time and day time contact.

What is a parenting plan?

If parents reach an agreement about the arrangements for their children after separation, the parties can either:

  • Make a parenting plan detailing the future arrangements for the children.
  • File consent orders which are approved by the Family Court.

A parenting plan is a written agreement made between the parents of children which is signed by both parents and dated. The Family Law Act states that a parenting plan must cover one or more of the following:

  • Who the child or children live with.
  • The time the child or children spend with each parent and with other people (for example grandparents).
  • How the parents share parenting responsibility for the child or children.
  • The communication the child or children will have with the parent or other people that they do not live with.
  • The maintenance of the child or children.
  • The process to be used to change or resolve disputes about the parenting plan.
  • Any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or children or parenting responsibility for the child or children.

A parenting plan is not a legally enforceable contract. It is not like a parenting order, which is made by the court. Whilst a parenting plan is not enforceable, the court will take into consideration the terms of a parenting plan when considering the best interests of a child or children.

What if there is already a court order?

The parties to a parenting order can agree to change the terms of that order by making a parenting plan (so long as the original order was made on or after 1 July 2006).

Our team of family law experts can help you with a parenting plan. Contact us to discuss.


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