Some separated parents choose to turn their informal arrangements regarding the care of their children into a Parenting Plan.
Section 63C(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that a Parenting Plan is a written agreement made between the parents of a child which is signed and dated by the parents.
A Parenting Plan can deal with a number of issues, including but not limited to:
- Who a child lives with;
- How much time the child spends with the other parent and any other person;
- Parental responsibility (the big decisions that parents make in their child’s lifetime regarding matters such as religion, education and health);
- The child’s communication with the other parent and any other person;
- How to resolve disputes about the Plan;
- How to change the plan.
While Parenting Plans may be useful in some situations, they are not enforceable in the Courts and do not create legal obligations on the parents. This means if one parent is not complying with the Plan, the other parent cannot apply to the Court on the basis that that there has been a breach or non-compliance of the Plan.
While the Court is likely to consider the terms of a Parenting Plan if a parent initiates Court proceedings in the future, the Court may not necessarily make Orders which align with the Parenting Plan.
The only way for parenting arrangements to be made binding on parents and enforceable in the Courts is for the Courts to make Orders in relation to parenting matters.
Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers can advise you in relation to all aspects of parenting matters, including providing you with advice about how to formalise your parenting matters by way of Consent Orders made by the Court or whether a Parenting Plan best suits you family’s needs.
If you and your former partner have decided to enter into a Parenting Plan instead, we can draft a Parenting Plan which is tailored to your family’s needs and provide you with advice about what should be contained in the Plan. If you have entered into a Parenting Plan which is no longer working for your family, we can review the plan and advise you on your options going forward.
By Michelle Petrovski and Caroline Counsel