Relationship separations can be challenging when considering the best interests of any children involved. Parents undergoing this process have the option of obtaining either a Parenting Plan or Parenting Orders. Before choosing one of the options, it is vital that parents understand the key differences between the two arrangements.
A Parenting Plan is a ‘written agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for child/ren. The plan is worked out and agreed jointly, you and your former partner do not need to go to court.’[i] It can cover areas including who the child lives with, who the child can spend time with, allocation of special responsibilities, arrangements of special days and holidays, schooling and response to medical emergencies.
One of the key benefits of Parenting Plans is that it’s flexible. Parents are able to amend any current arrangements to their agreement.
For more information about Parenting Plans, see Sections 63C, 64D, 65DA and 70NBB of The Family Law Act.
Parenting Plans do not cover the division of assets and resources and are not legally enforceable.
Parenting Orders are a ‘written agreement that is approved by a court. A consent order can cover parenting arrangements for children as well as financial arrangements such as property and maintenance. Any person concerned with the care, welfare, and development of a child can apply for parenting orders.’
Consent Orders have the same legal effect as if they had been made by a judicial officer after a court hearing. The Court must be satisfied that the orders you ask for are in the best interest of the child.
Parenting Orders are legally binding but not as flexible as a Parenting Plan.
“The contents do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice or other professional advice in relation to any particular matters you may have.”