When a relationship reaches its end, both parties need to consider arrangements for the children. Each parent discusses their ideas about what should be included in a parenting plan until it is agreed upon by both parents. It takes into consideration about how the children will be supported and taken care of. It includes things like day to day care of the children, who the children will live with, who they spend time with, holiday arrangements and special occasions, schooling and medical decisions. You do not need to go to court to prepare a Parenting Plan. It is not a legally enforceable agreement and is different from a parenting order. A parenting order is made by a court.
Benefits of a Parenting Plan
- You get to make your own decisions that suit you under your circumstances.
- An organised plan will save both parties future arguments and potential misunderstandings.
- It provides a degree of flexibility that parenting orders do not, for example, a parenting plan can add further written agreements easily. Orders would require a significant change in circumstances to do so.
- Saves a lot of time, money, and avoids unnecessary stress
How to Make a Parenting Plan?
The first thing you will need to do is discuss it with the other parent and try and come to mutual agreements. Once that is done, make a parenting plan by:
- Writing the agreement down, with as much detail as possible.
- Both parents and any other parties involved should sign the same Parenting Plan.
- The Parenting Plan needs to be dated
A qualified family lawyer can assist you in making a parenting plan. Hiring a lawyer will take the stress out of it for you.
Issues to Consider While Coming Up With a Parenting Plan
- Parental responsibility. Is it shared or sole?
- The amount of distance both parents live away from each other and how that will affect arrangements
- Arrangement to be made with relatives
- Commitments like work and family that can affect the child’s care
- The children’s commitments like sports and other social commitments
- Arrangement of transport (pick up and drop off) for children
- Special occasions like Christmas, birthdays, holidays
- Contact (via telephone/email/post)
- How to deal with disagreements and how to manage things in the future if circumstances change
- What to do and who to contact in case of a medical emergency.
Changing a Parenting Plan
It is possible to change a Parenting Plan or enter into a new Parenting Plan, provided that both parties consent to the agreements. It may also be helpful for the parents to attend mediation before they prepare and enter into a new Parenting Plan.
How Are Consent Orders Different?
A consent order is a written agreement approved by the Court, which covers parenting and/or financial arrangements. It is often the case that parents can enter into a Parenting Plan by themselves, but then hire a family lawyer to turn that plan into Consent Orders. The Consent Orders are then signed by each party and their lawyer and the Orders are filed in Court. A Family Court Registrar will then review the Orders, and if they are found to be in the best interests of the children, then the Orders are stamped. Once the Orders are stamped, each party will receive a stamped copy from the Court. The sealed Orders are legally binding and enforceable. This means that should either parent beach an Order under the Consent Orders, the other parent can consider making an application to the Court to enforce the Order.
An experienced lawyer can help you with coming up with the best plan to meet your children’s needs, while also taking into account your specific family situation.
For further assistance, you can contact one of our highly experienced family lawyers at the Family Lawyers Sydney through our website or call us at 02 8084 2764