Parenting Plans – What you need to know:
Are you wondering what issues can be included in a parenting plan or how you and your ex-partner can create one? Maybe you’re wondering what a parenting plan actually is? Well, you have come to the right place as we are going to explain what a parenting plan is, what parenting issues can be included in your plan and how you can draft it.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a written agreement, recognised under the Family Law Act, that sets out the parenting arrangements and responsibilities for one or more children. Both parents or guardians are to work out the arrangements and agree to the plan before dating and signing it.
How can separated parents or guardians create a parenting plan?
There is no specific or required format for a parenting plan. If you and the other parent or guardian are able to agree on the parenting arrangements and responsibilities for the child/ren, you can simply document your agreement and date and sign it.
Services are available to assist you and the other parent or guardian reach agreement through family dispute resolution (FDR). FDR is a process that brings two parties’ together to discuss issues in conflict. A mediator trained in family dispute resolution, works with both parties to reach agreements and work through conflict. Agreed outcomes can be documented into a parenting plan following FDR.
For information as to which services can provide FDR, visit: https://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/talk-someone/centres
Do I need a family lawyer to make a parenting plan?
There is no requirement for a family lawyer to be involved with the making of a parenting plan – parents and guardians can proceed with the assistance of a family lawyer. At any point during the process of arranging a parenting plan a parent or guardian can however engage a family lawyer for advice or assistance if questions or concerns arise.
What issues can be included in a parenting plan?
A parenting plan can include everything concerning the parenting arrangements and responsibilities for your child or children including;
- Allocation or parental responsibility
- Living arrangements and time arrangements for the children with each parent;
- Communication by way of telephone, face-time and/or online time with each parent when not in their care;
- Schools and/or Day care centre’s both parents or guardians agree their children will attend;
- Agreed parenting rules or strategies to be enforced in each house such as not playing video games after 8pm, not having a mobile phone until a certain age, not having ears pierced or hair dyed until both parents agree and so on.
- Financial support arrangements for the children
What should parents or guardians consider when making a parenting plan?
- Children’s best interests are to be prioritised when making long term decisions about the child/ren or day-to-day care and responsibility of the child/ren;
- Children’s wishes and views;
- The age, stage and development of the child/ren;
- Special needs of the child/ren including any medical, learning, developmental and/or psychological needs;
- Education and educational needs of the child/ren;
- Cultural needs of the child/ren;
- Safety needs of the child/ren;
- Practical planning considerations regarding the transport, living arrangements and expenses for the child/ren;
- Suggestions and recommendations from child development professionals;
- Financial responsibilities of each parent that are outside the scope of child support such as extra-curricular activities, additional uniforms and medical treatments involving out of pocket expenses such as dental, orthodontic and optical.
- Strategies for minimising and resolving conflict that may occur between the separated parents or guardians to the plan.
Is a Parenting Plan legally binding?
A parenting plan is not legally binding.
Can I make our Parenting Plan legally binding?
If you would like to make a parenting plan legally binding, you can apply for consent orders which means both parties agree and consent to parenting orders being made.
If you and the other parent or guardian do not agree and want to make an application for parenting orders to the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court of Australia (FCFCOA), you need to attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) prior to making an application with the Court.
For more information on parenting orders and how to apply, visit: https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/hdi/apply-parenting-orders
If you have further questions about a parenting plan one of our family lawyers would be more than happy to have a free 20 minute phone consultation with you. Simply fill in an online enquiry form and one of our family lawyers will arrange to give you a call.