Make a Plan,
If you have never negotiated parenting arrangements before, you are not alone. Nothing beats having an experienced solicitor to assist you through this process.
As a first step, we encourage all our clients to speak with your ex-partner and see if you can make an arrangement to care for the children together before seeing a lawyer.
Although parenting plans are not enforceable, they can be used as evidence of the parties intentions at the time that the agreement was made if your matter does end up going to Court.
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What can be in a Parenting Plan?
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement between parents (and others) that sets out the care arrangements for the children.
This agreement must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents and can outline who makes decisions about what, the times each child spends with each parent and how the parties will communicate.
This agreement can also outline what will happen on special ocassions, such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays before they occur to avoid stress and ambiguity in the moment.
Parenting Plans are merely a pragmatic tool to assist parents and their children to have clear communication. Its purpose is to help the parents to clarify their intentions and iron out misunderstandings before they arise.
Parenting Plans are not legally binding, They can, however, be used as evidence in the event of Court litigation.
If you desire to have a legally enforceable agreement, you will need to obtain Parenting Orders. This can be done by consent without the need to attend Court.
What do I need for an effective Parenting Plan?
The agreement is only required to be dated, signed by both parents and be in writing to be recognised as a Parenting Plan.
You want a Parenting Plan to clearly set out what will happen when different circumstances arise between the parties in relation to the children.
Although a Parenting Plan is not legally binding, you can still obtain the assistance of a lawyer to ensure a comprehensive and practical agreement is drafted.
Do I have to go to Court?
If you have an agreement with the other side about parenting arrangements, you can apply for the Court to make Consent Orders. This can be achieved without needing to physically attend a Court or engage in stressful litigation.
Parenting Orders or Consent Orders can be obtained without attending Court. Such agreements often give parents peace of mind in knowing that the Court can be called on to support and enforce an agreement if needed.
DG assists everyday Mums and Dads to navigate this process and ensure success the first time, every time.
What if the other side is withholding the children?
The choice to withhold a child from the other parent is stressful for everyone and may be illegal, depending on the circumstances.
It is presumed under the Family Law Act 1975 that both parties should be involved in the life of a child.
If a parent has serious concerns about the safety or well being of the child, they should apply to the Court and let the Judge make such an Order based on the evidence.
We recommend that you speak with a family lawyer immediately to protect your rights and get your relationship back on track without delay.
What if I want to change it?
If you have agreed on a Parenting Plan, this agreement may be changed at any time by agreement between the parties as long as it is dated, in writing.
If you have Parenting Orders, we recommend that you attempt to discuss the changes with the other side and perhaps even engage in mediation to address your concerns.
In the event that you cannot reach an agreement, you will need to establish that there has been a significant change in the circumstances for the Court Orders to be amended.