Parenting Plans or Parenting Orders

There are two methods of documenting parenting arrangements for children of separated parents that are recognised by the Family Law Act 1975. The first is a Parenting Plan, which is an unenforceable written record of agreed parenting arrangements. The second is by way of Parenting Orders, which also set out the parenting arrangements between the parties, but unlike a Parenting Plan, Parenting Orders are enforceable in the event of a breach of the parenting arrangements by one parent.  Parenting Orders are either made by the Court with the consent of both parties (commonly referred to as “Consent Orders”) or if parties cannot agree, they are determined by the Court after a Hearing.

The individual circumstances of a case, and the specific needs of the children will determine whether a Parenting Plan or Parenting Orders are best suited in your particular circumstances. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Except in certain circumstances, once Parenting Orders are made, they are difficult to vary in the future unless there is a significant change in circumstances which warrant a variation, or the variation is with the consent of the other parent.  Therefore, long term parenting arrangements should ideally make provision for parenting arrangements to evolve as the children grow and mature.


When considering suitable parenting arrangements for your children, it is important to give careful consideration to all the relevant factors including the children’s ages, their physical, emotional and psychological needs, the family dynamics, the relationships the parents have with each other and the children, the practicalities of any proposed parenting arrangements and any other matter affecting the children.  Parenting Plans or Parenting Orders can set out all the care arrangements for the children, including but not limited to with whom the children are to live and spend time, the sharing or allocation of parental responsibility, arrangements for the children’s schooling and extracurricular activities, religious instruction, travel and other specific issues relevant to the children.

The appropriate documentation for parenting arrangements is important to ensure harmony between the parents and to provide a pathway to assist parents in the care of their children going into the future.  In some circumstances Consent Orders will be best and in others, a Parenting Plan.

At Edwards Family Lawyers we are able to provide you with expert advice to assist you to formulate parenting arrangements specific circumstances of your family and to advise you on which document is best for you.  If you would like further advice, please contact us.

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