As a matter of principle, we encourage our clients to reach an agreement, if possible, about their parenting arrangements post separation, without the need to resort to the Family Law Courts. One advantage in reaching an agreement is that the legal fees will be significantly reduced, and in our experience, the parties are more likely to have an effective co-parenting relationship moving forward.
Parents who are able to reach an agreement regarding care arrangements for their children have two ways to formalise their agreement. If you and your former partner agree on the future arrangements for your children, you can either make a Parenting Plan or obtain Consent Orders approved by the Court.
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement that is made between the parents of a child or children. A Parenting Plan is a written agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for each child. The plan is worked out and agreed jointly so the parents do not need to go to Court.
However, it should be noted that a Parenting Plan is not a legally enforceable agreement and cannot be enforced like a Court Order can be.
Parenting Plans are very useful where parents can cooperate and agree about the care arrangements for the child and the issues they wish to include in the Parenting Plan.
Consent Orders is one of the most common ways in which parents record the care arrangements for their children post separation.
Consent Orders can only deal with the care arrangements for children and cannot deal with child support issues.
Consent Orders can also deal with the following issues:
- whether the parents are to have equal shared parental responsibility
- with whom the child lives
- whether the child will spend equal time with each parent or “substantial and significant” time with a parent, including specific details of how the child will spend time with each parent
- the child spending ‘special days’ with each parent such as Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day;
- the time a child will spend with a grandparent or other relative
- the communication a child will have with the parent who they are not living with, including telephone, skype and facetime
- any aspect of the care, welfare and development of the child, including education (the school the child will attend), health, religion and cultural issues
Consent Orders are enforceable by the Court. This is because they are filed in the Family Court and become an Order of the Court. In these circumstances, if a parent fails to comply with the Orders, it is possible to ask the Court to enforce the Order.
If you know someone who may need assistance, call us on (02) 8014 5885 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.