Parenting plan: Should I make one?

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Parenting plan

Ever wondered what is a parenting plan? A Parenting Plan is a written agreement which is signed and executed by both parents detailing the specific arrangements in respect of the care for the children in the event of separation.

A Parenting Plan may deal with a whole range of issues including living arrangements of the child, time spent with either parent, arrangements for special days such as birthdays and holidays, medical care, school arrangements, travel arrangements or religious issues as well as the allocation of parental responsibility including procedures for making decisions regarding the long term care, welfare and development of the child/ren. Preparation of a Parenting Plan should always have in mind the best interests of the children.

Should I make a Parenting Plan?

In a post breakdown scenario children are often the most vulnerable. Sadly enough, they are often involved in a ‘war’ between their parents where everything about the children’s upbringing from where they go to school to what they eat can turn out to be a bone of contention.

In Family Law, The Family Law Act 1975 (“FLA”) encourages parents to mutually decide about the children’s care arrangements and deems taking parenting matters to Court as a last resort. A Parenting Plan is considered to be valid as per section 63C(1) of the FLA if it fulfils the following conditions:

  • There are no threats, duress or coercion involved in preparing the plan;
  • The agreement is made between the parents of the child; and
  • The agreement is in writing, is dated and is signed by both the parents.

Parenting Plans are not legally enforceable. On the contrary, parenting orders approved or made by the court are just like any other Court Order and are binding on the parties involved until the children reach the age of eighteen. Both parents may approach the Court to procure “Consent Orders” and ask for parenting orders to be made by agreement. A pre-existing parenting plan may be used as the basis for an application for Consent Orders.

Parents do not, however, need to have a parenting plan to make an application for Consent Orders and an agreement about the terms of the orders is sufficient. Also, a Parenting Plan, as agreed between the parties, may be used to change the parenting arrangements set out in any court order made on or after 1 July 2006.

If the parents decide to change or terminate the Parenting Plan, it can be done by preparing a fresh written agreement and it can be initiated at any time.

Our team of experienced lawyers have extensive exposure to Family Law matters and can guide you in all regards as to the preparation of a Parenting Plan. We cater to the specific needs of our clients and handle every issue with utmost care and compassion. If you have any queries in relation to preparation of Parenting Plan or would like to speak to one of our family law experts, please feel free to contact us on 1800 770 780.

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