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  • Writer's pictureLynchLaw

Documenting Parenting Arrangements

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

When parties have reached an agreement in respect to parenting matters, depending on the circumstances and relationship between the parties there are two ways the agreement can be documented:

  • Parenting Plan; or

  • Parenting Orders.

Parenting Plan

A Parenting Plan offers the parties flexibility to vary the terms of the Plan without the need for the court’s intervention. A Parenting Plan is a document, signed by both parties which sets out the parenting arrangements for the child/ren of the relationship such as:

  1. With whom the child shall live;

  2. The time the child is spend with each parent or another person;

  3. Special occasions and school holiday time;

  4. Travel with the child;

  5. Schooling;

  6. Parental responsibility for the child;

  7. The communication the child is to have with each parent or another person;

  8. Dispute resolution process;

  9. The process to be used when proposing changes to the Plan;

  10. Any aspect of the care, welfare and development of the child or any aspect of parental responsibility for the child

If the Parenting Plan makes reference to a child spending time with another person other than a parent, this requires the consent of both parents.

Parenting Orders

Orders dealing with children are known as “parenting orders”. Parenting orders offer the parties comfort in that if one party contravenes the orders, the other party can apply to the court for enforcement of the orders.

Parenting orders, once sealed by the court, can only be varied with the consent of both parties, or by one party making an application to the court if there has been a significant change in circumstances which renders the orders unsustainable.

The Family Law Act sets out the types of things a parenting order may deal with, which is similar to the types of arrangements set out in a parenting plan. A parenting order may be applied for by:

  1. Either or both of the child’s parents; or

  2. The child; or

  3. A grandparent of the child; or

  4. Any other person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child.

When the court is deciding on making parenting orders, the court must have regard to the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. Of primary considerations to the court are:

  1. The benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and

  2. The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from exposure to abuse, neglect or family violence.

Parenting Orders can be entered into by consent of both parents. This is an administrative process and does not require the parties to attend court.

On the other hand, if parties are not able to agree on the future parenting arrangements for the child, both parties must attempt mediation before commencing court proceedings.

For further information or if you require assistance with your family law matter, please contact us to discuss.

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