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Family Law

Family Law in Canberra – Separation and Children – Documenting a parenting agreement? Parenting Plans vs Parenting Consent Orders – Angela Li, Solicitor

By October 3, 2014No Comments

If you are separated from your partner, and you have children together, it is important you think about the parenting arrangements for your children, and have a serious discussion with your former partner. For many children, it is always a relief when parents reach an agreement.  It gives them certainty and security to have a clear and predictable arrangement about who they will live with, and when they will see and stay with the other parent.

For parents, reaching a formal agreement affects how things are going to be organised, helps both parents to organise their new life, and always helps to avoid arguments and misunderstandings in the future.

You don’t have to write down a parenting agreement, but it usually helps.  There are two ways this can be done, either through a Parenting Plan, or through Parenting Orders. Both options have their merits and the following should help you decide which is best suited to your circumstances .

Parenting Plans

A Parenting Plan is an agreement that separated parents can make about how their children will be cared for. Parenting Plans are designed to be flexible and, to a certain extent, informal. It is quite common for Parenting Plans to be prepared by the parents themselves, without the extensive involvement of a lawyer. Parenting Plans are not filed at court. It is simply a private written agreement. To come into effect however, it must be dated and signed by both parents.

Parenting Plans can deal with almost any matter relating to the children. For example, it can set out who the child is to live with, the amount of time the child spends time with other people, parental responsibility, and child financial support. Quite often, parents also include some general terms, for example, respectful communication between the parents, and that the parents will always act in the best interests of the child.

The main difference between a Parenting Plan and Parenting Consent Orders is that Parenting Plans are not enforceable by the courts. But, if one parent is in breach of the agreement, the Parenting Plan can later be used as evidence in court. If you need more information about this you should speak with us about the consequences of breaching a Parenting Plan.

Parenting Consent Orders

Parenting Consent Orders are more formal. They are filed at court, become court orders, and are enforceable by the courts. If a parent breaches consent orders, the other parent can make an application to the court about that breach.

Parenting Consent Orders can deal with almost any matter relating to the children. But, in contrast with Parenting Plans, Parenting Consent Orders are usually drafted in very specific language and with a lot of detail. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you speak with us about drafting those Orders.

Parenting arrangements keep things on track

Whether you decide to go with a Parenting Plan or Parenting Consent Orders they will help keep things on track. Getting the discussion started is often the hardest part, and we can help you with that.

It is also important that you speak to us for legal advice before signing any document, and remember, every child is unique, and every family is different. What might work for one family might not work for yours.

Alliance Family Law can help you decide which is the better option for your circumstances, if necessary we can help you prepare the necessary documents, and we will advise you on the consequences of signing a document you and/or your partner have prepared. Please contact us on (02) 6223 2400 for a “no obligation” discussion.   (OUR CONTACT PAGE)

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