School holidays are on the horizon once more, so now is a good time to consider shared care arrangements for your children. Do you have a parenting plan? Although parenting arrangements don’t have to be written down, a written parenting plan worked out between parents will clarify the arrangements you wish to put in place to care for your children. Practical decisions are made about things like parenting style, living arrangements, finances, religion and arrangements for holidays and special occasions. A parenting plan can include anything that parents need to agree on about their children and can be changed at any time with the agreement of both parents. Agreeing in this way means you have control over the process and you won’t need to fight things out in court, which can be a traumatic, expensive and lengthy experience. Of course, in some situations court involvement is absolutely necessary. But coming to a workable agreement without court saves money, time and distress and, ultimately, it is better for your children.
While you don’t have to make a parenting plan, the Family Law Act strongly encourages parents to reach an agreement about the children. A parenting plan is one way of writing down that agreement. Many separated parents are able to work out arrangements between themselves. Others find it better to get some help to reach agreement and/or to put the agreement into a parenting plan. Professionals who work as accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioners can help you achieve a workable agreement.
A parenting plan is drawn up in good faith with a shared commitment to your children and their future firmly in mind. While not legally enforceable, it can have legal implications. Also, a parenting plan does not cover how you intend to divide up your assets, home and cash—these matters should be discussed with a mediator or lawyer who provides property settlements. If you want your parenting agreement to be recognised by law as a Parenting Plan, it must be written down in a particular way and dated and signed by both of you. For assistance with such matters, please contact Cristina Huesch, here at Alliance Family Law.
Even with professional help, not all separated parents find they can agree on parenting arrangements, or sometimes, agreements made are not kept. In some cases attempting to reach agreement may not be safe, or there may be other difficulties or urgency preventing agreement. If this applies to you, you may need to go to court. If you already have a parenting plan but still need to go to court, the court will take the plan into account as long as it is in writing, was dated and signed by both parents, and was made without threats or intimidation.