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Parenting Orders: What do I need to know?

If you have separated from your partner with whom you share the care of children, having an agreement about the time the children with spend with each parent can help to alleviate some of the difficulties parents face after separating and also help to create stability and certainty for children so they know when they will be spending time with each parent.

Some options that parents can consider to document parenting arrangements can be either via an informal parenting plan or having a binding consent order.

Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is an informal agreement and is often a good option if it is likely parents will want to renegotiate and adjust the parenting arrangements for their children over time. A parenting plan can cover many issues, including, but not limited to:

  • The parental responsibility parents have for their children;
  • The time the children spend with each parent during the week and on weekends, holiday times and special occasions;
  • How parents will communicate with each other regarding the children;
  • Keeping each other advised of their address and contact phone number;
  • Keeping each other advised of medical issues for the children.

A parenting plan may be negotiated by the parents directly. However, if that is not possible, or assistance is needed to reach an agreement, it is advisable to attend Family Dispute Resolution with a qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Before attending Family Dispute Resolution, we recommend parents obtain legal advice about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to parenting after separation.

In some limited circumstances, it may not be appropriate for Family Dispute Resolution to occur, and particularly if there are family violence issues or allegations of abuse. We recommend that you obtain legal advice if you believe this is the case.

Consent Orders

An alternative to a parenting plan is to seek an order from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to formalise the parenting arrangements. This type of order can be made on the joint application and consent of both parents. A parenting order is legally binding and both parents are expected to follow the terms of the orders. There can be serious consequences for a parent who fails to adhere to the orders.

Like a parenting plan, an order can cover the same issues regarding the parenting arrangements for the children. However, the order can be difficult to vary once it is made unless the parents agree to amend it, or they meet the legal requirements to have the orders varied.

It is highly recommended that parents obtain legal advice before entering into consent orders.

At Gordon Legal, we have experienced Family Lawyers who can offer practical and child focused advice to help parents reach the best outcomes for their children. We can also help parents negotiate parenting arrangements and prepare both parenting plans and consent orders.

Please see below some helpful resources:

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