Sit Down And Build A Parenting Plan Together

Sit down and build a parenting plan together. That is the best way to get through your divorce and be good parents together for your children. It’s a great deal you can give to your kids after a divorce.

If both of you have decided to have a divorce you will still be partners (although often unwilling partners) in rearing your children. If you have children together, you are always connected with your partner. No matter how awful your divorce gets, and how difficult your spouse seems, you are still parents together.

Your roles as parents and your partnership continue even after your separation, not just until the children are grown. Events like birthdays, graduations, weddings, divorces, etc. These will take you back into your co-parenting role. You can’t get out of it. So you might as well make the best of it.

What Is A Parenting Plan?

Creating a co-parenting relationship and sharing decision making powers with a former spouse is not easy, but by taking one step at a time it is possible and as you reduce conflict and encourage communication, your children will feel more secure and less afraid.

It is a formal statement that establishes how parents will spend time with their child or children; how they will share information; how they will make decisions regarding their child or children and how they will resolve other parenting issues.

It also places less emphasis on legal labels like sole custody, joint custody, etc. It focus instead on the divorcing parents own plan for parenting. Parenting plans may be created by the parents themselves, with their attorney or with a mediator.

How Court Parenting Plan Works?

Parenting plan allows parents to arrive at their own decisions about suitable parenting arrangements. It is not a legally enforceable agreement. Unlike a parenting order, which is made by a court and is legally enforceable.

If parents advance to court, the court will be required to consider the terms of the current parenting plan when making a parenting order in relation to their children. The court will also consider the degree to which both parents have complied with their obligations to their children, which may include the terms of a parenting plan.

If the court order is made after July 1, 2006 setting out parenting arrangements, the parents can agree to change those provision with a parenting plan (unless the court order says otherwise). In a fact that parenting plan is voluntary, it can be changed at any time as long as the change has the agreement of both parents.

Parenting Plan In Australia

Parenting Plans can be substantial if the issue re enters the Court system. Consent orders are a more formal document and advice should be sought before submitting them to a Court.
Consent Orders are more formal documents and should be ‘phrased’ properly. It should make no possibility of misinterpretation of the orders between the parties. Orders do not contain ‘intent’ phrases; they are formal ‘contractual’ legally enforceable agreements and are phrased. Consent Orders and orders made by a Judge or Federal magistrate have NO legal difference.

A Family Relationship Counsellor must explain to the involved parties that:

  • Parenting concerns should focus on the best interests of the child.
  • If the arrangements are “reasonably practicable” and in the “best interests” of the child then the child spending equal time with each of them may be an option for them to consider.
  • If equal time is not appropriate but it is “reasonably practicable” and in the “best interests” of the child for the child to spend “substantial and significant time” with each of them then they should consider that option.
  • The issues that may be dealt with in a Parenting Plan are set out in Section 63C (2) Family Law Act.

Here’s a table that shows the difference of parenting plans and consent orders.

Parenting Plans Consent Orders
It was first introduced to the Family Law Act in 1996; they were later removed but have now been reintroduced with the amendments to the Family Law Act on 1 July 2006. Consent Orders are registered Court orders.
Parenting plans provides a way of documenting children’s arrangements other than with a Court Order. Consent Orders also documents the arrangements for the children.
A Parenting Plan agreement is in writing, that is made, dated and signed by both parents and which deals with arrangements for the children. Consent Orders are in writing, dated and signed by both parents and a witness.
Parenting Plans can deal with a variety of matters, such as, who a child lives with or spends time with, whether parental responsibility is shared or allocated, dispute resolution and other aspects of care for the child. Consent Orders deal with the same issues.
It can be made at anytime and anywhere. There is no typical form for a Parenting Plan so it is quite easy for a Parenting Plan to be made. This can be made on the same basis. Consent orders are more formal, unmistakable and have a preferred layout.
A Parenting Plan can be made before or after July 1, 2006; it can be made inside or outside of Australia and it can be made with other people as parties to it other than the child’s parents (including a grandparent or other relative of the child). Consent Orders can be made at any time but must be ‘lodged and recorded’ in a Family Court(s) registry. The most common type is party to party (Father and Mother).
Can be revisited and updated to reflect the changes which occur from time to time. Can be re lodged at any time to reflect any changes that have or are likely to occur. This can be done by (a) ‘superseding all previous orders’ or (b) amending previous existing orders ie Order 3A is replaced with x.
Parenting Plans are NOT registered with the Court and are NOT enforceable as Court Orders. Consent Orders ARE registered with the Court and IS enforceable as Court Orders.
If a dispute between parents arises after a Parenting Plan has been prepared, the Court is entitled to look at the Parenting Plan as a reflection of the parties intention in guiding the Court as to what Order is appropriate. If a dispute arises (normally a contravention)after Consent orders have been lodged, the Court ‘determines’ the issue according to the wording of the orders.
If a Parenting Plan is made after a Court Order has been made then the Parenting Plan overrides the Court Order. Revised Consent Orders lodged with the Court override any other written agreements unless the Parenting Plan specifies this. Note: Parenting Plans are NOT enforceable.
A Parenting Plan may be varied or revoked by agreement in writing between the parties to the Plan. Consent Orders may be varied at any time by agreement between the parties and by re-lodging the ‘amended’ (revised) orders. The Courts do not charge for Consent Order lodgement.


This term is used to describe the way parents deal with their children after a divorce and is charged with negative energy. We often see in movies that in a term “custody” parents are to compete with each other. One of you is going to “win” custody and the other will “lose”. Again, it connotes that one of you is the “real” parent and the other gets to visit occasionally. It doesn’t have to be that way all the time. Surely, the children will be affected drastically. They still have two parents, and certainly, they almost always want a close relationship with both of them.

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