What is a Parenting Plan?

The Family Law Act defines a Parenting Plan as an agreement that:

  • is in writing;
  • is or was made between the parents of a child;
  • is signed by the parents of the child;
  • is dated; and
  • deals with at least one of the matters set out below.

One of the advantages of a Parenting Plan, is its flexibility and inclusion of a broader range of matters than a Court Order. Matters that can be dealt with in a Parenting Plan include:

  • who a child lives with;
  • the time a child spends with another person;
  • the allocation of parental responsibility;
  • if 2 or more persons are to share parental responsibility for a child — the form of consultations required about decisions;
  • communication between a child and another person;
  • maintenance of a child;
  • the process to be used for resolving disputes about the terms or operation of the plan;
  • the process to be used for changing the plan to take account of the changing needs or circumstances of the child or the parties to the plan;
  • any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

Parenting Plans are not filed in the Family Court like consent orders. They are particularly advantageous when parents are able to communicate effectively because they are flexible and include a broad range of issues. However, if one parent breaches a Parenting Plan, it cannot be as readily enforced as a Court Order but it may be considered by the Court in any subsequent Court proceedings.

If you consider a Parenting Plan may help with arrangements regarding care of your children, please contact us. Alternatively, if you are not sure that a Parenting Plan is appropriate in your circumstances, please read further information on our website about Consent Orders or commencing an Application in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.


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