Mcphee Lawyers


10 April 2017

Parenting Plans – What are they? Considering entering into one?


When separated parents agree on the future parenting arrangements for their children they do not need to go to Court for the agreement to be recognised. They have 2 options to reflect their agreement:

  1. enter a Parenting Plan; or
  2. enter into a Consent Order approved by a Court

This blog focuses on Parenting Plans.

The nature and requirements of a Parenting Plan[1]

A Parenting Plan is a voluntary agreement which sets out parenting arrangements for children. It must be in writing, signed and dated and entered into free from any threat, duress or coercion.[2] A Parenting Plan is not enforceable at law, however, if an Application is made to a Court for parenting Orders, the Court is to have regard to the most recent Parenting Plan when making a parenting Order if it is in the children’s best interests to do so.[3]

A Parenting Plan may include:[4]

  • with whom a child is to live;
  • the time a child is to spend with a parent;
  • the allocation of parental responsibility for a child;
  • if the parties are to share parental responsibility for a child, the method of consultations the parties are to have with one another about decisions to be made in the exercise of that responsibility;
  • the communication a child is to have with another person or other persons;
  • maintenance of a child. If the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 applies, provisions dealing with the maintenance of a child (as different from child support) are unenforceable and of no effect unless the provisions are a child support agreement;[5]
  • the process to be used for resolving disputes or in relation to changing the Parenting Plan;
  • any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

Can a Parenting Plan be registered?

A Parenting Plan cannot be registered with a Court.

Can a Parenting Plan be altered?

A Parenting Plan may be varied or revoked by agreement in writing between the parties.[6]

Can the terms of a Parenting Plan be enforced?

As a Parenting Plan is not legally binding it cannot be enforced. Please note, as set out above, a Court is to have regard to the terms of the most recent Parenting Plan when making a parenting Order if it is in the best interests of the child to do so.[7]

How we can help

Prior to entering into a Parenting Plan is important to obtain legal advice so that you are aware of all your options including:

  • where a party can get further assistance to create a Parenting Plan; and
  • the matters that may be included in a Parenting Plan (as set out above).

If you have a Parenting Plan and are experiencing difficulties with compliance we can explain the availability of programs to help people who experience such difficulties or discuss your other options.

If you wish to discuss whether a Parenting Plan is suitable for you make an appointment with one of our solicitors today.

[1] Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 63C (‘FLA’).

[2] FLA ss 63C(1) and 63C(1A).

[3] FLA s 65DAB.

[4] FLA s 63C(2) (a) – (i).

[5] FLA ss 63CAA.

[6] FLA s 63D.

[7] FLA s 65DAB.

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