Parenting Plan Vs Court Orders

Here at Bale Boshev Lawyers, we are often asked what is the difference between a parenting plan and a court order?

It is always a good idea for parents to have a written agreement about care arrangements for their children. Often parents are unsure of the type of agreement they should make with the other parent. Should they make an informal parenting agreement? Or do they need to go to court?
There are a few different types of parenting agreements that can be made, (in writing) that outline the care arrangements, spend time arrangements, communication and other arrangements for the children or child.

A Parenting Plan

 A parenting plan is an informal agreement often signed and dated by the parents in relation to a child or children. A parenting plan usually includes:

  • Who the child lives with;
  • Who the child spend time with and what time;
  • What parent is allocated parental responsibility (this often includes shared parental responsibility as opposed to sole parental responsibility);
  • Arrangements for special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, birthdays and school holidays; and
  • Communication arrangements (such as telephone communication)

In our experience, a parenting plan can be appropriate in some matters but not all, depending on the relationship between the parents and other factors. Parenting plans are often flexible and ideal for parents who get along well and who are likely to get along well into the future. The downside to a parenting plan is that they are not legally binding, given that they are not an order of the court. This can cause concern for parents where they are unsure if the other party will follow the parenting plan, or if they want something with more stability.

Parenting Order / Court Orders

 A parenting order, or often called ‘court order’ is a set of orders made by a Court, such as the Federal Circuit Court of Australia or Family Court of Australia, about care arrangements for a child. A court can make a parenting order based on either:

  • An agreement between the parents/parties (called ‘consent orders’);
  • After a Court hearing (interim or final hearing).

Parenting orders, as opposed to an informal parenting plan is enforceable by the Court. If either parent or party does not follow the parenting Order, they can be required to explain their actions to the Court and the Court can discipline them for breaching a Parenting orders.

When making any Parenting Order (by consent, or after a court hearing), the Court is required to have primary regard to the best interests of the child (paramount consideration). When thinking about making a parenting order by consent, the parents or parties should consult a legal representative to ensure the proposed orders are in the best interests of the child (such as monetary fines, variation of a parenting order, or in serious circumstances, imprisonment).

If you and the other parent (or party) agree about care arrangements for your child or children, you can apply to the Court for a parenting order by agreement, ‘Consent Orders’. Consent orders are legally binding and have the same type of consequences if a parent (or party) breaches an order.

While parents are often the main parties to a parenting order, Grandparents, Step-parents and other relatives may also apply to the Court for orders in relation to a chid.

It is a good idea to sit down with a legal representative, such as one of our experienced family lawyers, to discuss and receive independent legal advice about your options.

If you would like further advice on your parenting matter, please contact Bale Boshev to book an appointment on 02 4969 1522.

Talk to one of our lawyers today, and let us fight for you.