children matters, parenting plans & consent orders

The Family Law Act 1975 was amended in July 2006 to include significant changes in the way the Court view and decide on children matters after separation.  

At the forefront of these changes was the introduction of legislation that states the presumption that both parents should have Equal Shared Parental Responsibility of their children. This does not mean that both parents should automatically spend equal time with their children. This means that both parents should have the ability to make joint decisions about the care of the children in regard to important matters such as schooling.  

There are many different factors that a Court will look at when deciding the living arrangements of children, if disputed.  The Court, however, “must regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration.”

Both children and the parents require stability and transparency after separation to succeed in creating a harmonious family environment. That is where a Parenting Plan or Consent Order will assist in setting out the exact parenting arrangement for the children allowing both parents the required equal shared parental responsibility.  

There are two documents which set out appropriate clauses detailing the parenting arrangement. These are the Parenting Plan and Consent Orders. There are clear advantages to both options and these are set out below:

Parenting Plan

A Parenting Plan is a document that sets out the parenting arrangements for the child or children as agreed and signed by the parents. The Plan can include various clauses relating to the care of the child or children such as holidays, telephone contact, international trips and healthcare. The document is also flexible in that it can be amended and re-signed if situations change throughout the course of the Plan.  

A Parenting Plan is not legally enforceable by the Court, however if a parent needs to go to Court to obtain enforceable Orders, a signed and dated Parenting Plan will be taken into account by the Court in most situations.

Consent Orders

Consent Orders are made by the Court once applied for by the parents and only when the Court thinks they are in the best interest of the child or children.  

If a parent breaches a Consent Order there are consequences and possible penalties. If the Federal Police are required then they will need a copy of the Consent Order before they proceed.

There is less flexibility with the Consent Order as it cannot be amended unless a new application is presented to the Court and accepted to amend the Orders.  

If you require assistance with preparing and negotiating parenting documentation, please contact us to book in for your no-fee first consultation.