If you and your partner can come to an agreement in relation to the future arrangements for your child or children, you do not have to go to Court or “go before a judge” to formalise this agreement.
There are two options available to either:
- Make a Parenting Plan; or
- Obtain Orders made by consent by way of an Application for Consent Orders
Whilst it is not mandatory to have either option above (and some parents simply have a verbal agreement between them), it is advisable to have an agreement in writing so that there is certainty and understanding between parties how children will spend time with parents post separation. This can reduce stress on the parents and reduce impacts of the separation on the children.
Parents are encouraged to come to agreements in relation to children to avoid lengthy and costly litigation. This can be done via public Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners or via private mediators, including persons such as psychologist mediators.
A parenting plan is a written agreement which sets out the agreement to parenting arrangements. The plan can be arranged jointly by way of agreement, and then signed between the parents. A parenting plan is a good way of keeping a written record of the arrangements between parents, in an informal manner.
If you wish to enter into a parenting plan, you do not have to go to Court, or even provide a copy to the Court. A parenting plan is an informal arrangement that is entered into between parents.
As the agreement is informal and not approved by the Court, a parenting plan is not enforceable. This means that if is there is non-compliance with the agreement, a party cannot ask the Court to enforce the agreement, which may cause difficulties in case of a breach.
Parties can, if they wish to be bound by Orders, enter into an Application for Consent Orders in relation to the parenting arrangements for a child or children. Orders are approved by a Registrar of the Court, and then become an enforceable Order of the Court.
In the event a party does not comply with the Order, a party can file for Recovery, Contravention or further Orders due to the breach of the Order.
Orders of this nature provide an enforceable, long term plan to how children will spend time with their parents post separation.
When the Court is determining whether to make orders in relation to a child, they must consider what the best interests of that child or children are.
Parents can be creative with what they want to happen with the children, considering things such as international travel, Skype, FaceTime, special occasions, Birthdays, Christmas, telephone time, and how things such as pickups/drop offs are managed, or provision of medical information or schooling information.
If you would like further information relating to entering into Consent Orders, a Parenting Plan or with mediation. Please do not hesitate to contact our office.
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