Parenting Plan

What is Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written parenting agreement between the parents of a child or children. It generally addresses issues like whom the child shall live with, when the child shall spend time and communicate with their parents or other parties, the allocation of parental responsibility, maintenance of a child and any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child (s 63C of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)).

What is the difference between a Parenting Plan and a Parenting Order?

Whilst a parenting plan is a written agreement between parents or parties concerning arrangements for a child, it is not enforceable by a Court if there is non-compliance by one party or parent (Part VII Division 13A of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)). In the event of non-compliance of a Court Order, there may be serious penalties depending on the contravention including fines or imprisonment.

How does the court view Parenting Plans?

Section 64D of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides a mechanism to vary a Parenting Order if the parties or parents subsequently enter into a parenting plan in some circumstances. This excludes situations where there is an express prohibition by the Court in circumstances where the child is at risk of harm or where there is significant evidence of extreme coercion by one of the parents to force an agreement.

In some situations, parties to a parenting proceeding may have already entered into a parenting plan before the matter proceeding to Court. When the Court is considering making Parenting Orders, the Court is to have regard and consider the terms of the most recent agreement relating to the child if to do so would be in the best interest of the child (Section 65DAB of the Family Law Act (Cth)).

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