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Parenting Plans in Australia

Parenting plans are a way to record in writing the agreement made about parenting arrangements after separation. They are not legally binding like Parenting Orders but they serve as a record of an agreement that has been made between the parents.

What Can Be in a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan usually covers the very important issues about parenting after separation, including:

  • Which parent makes the decisions about the children;
  • Which days/nights the children spend with each parent;
  • What other communication the children and the parents have – for example via telephone, Skype, Facetime or other means.

Depending on what other issues are important for families, it can also set out other arrangements for holidays, or special days, such as birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Lunar New Year, Orthodox Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and other important religious or family celebrations.

Some plans will also include details about how the parents communicate with each other or communicate with other important people or organisations, such as schools, medical practitioners, sporting teams and extended family.

A parenting plan should include all of the details about parenting that are important to the family.

How do I make a Parenting Plan?

There are only a few simple formal requirements when making a parenting plan. For a documented agreement to be recognised as a parenting plan, it must:

  • Be in writing;
  • Be signed by both parents making the plan; and
  • Be dated.

For a plan to be a useful document, it should also be simple to read, use plain English and be set out in short paragraphs that each deal with one particular parenting issue.It should be clear enough that any person reading it for the first time can understand what has been agreed to by the parents making the parenting plan.

It does not need to be prepared by a lawyer, or witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. It does not need to be lodged with the court.

Are they legally binding?

Parenting plans are not legally binding. However, if there is a court dispute after one has been made, the signed plan can be used as evidence of the previous agreement of the parents.

Many separated parents find that parenting plans assist them by setting out in writing all of the parenting arrangements, so the intention is clear and the likelihood of misunderstandings and disputes is reduced.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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