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Planning for the future: Parenting – Parenting Plans v Consent Orders

Planning for the future can be difficult, especially when children are involved.

Our goal at Access Law Group is to advise and provide you with tools to help you plan ahead during difficult times and ensure that you are prepared for the future.

As family lawyers, we help document parenting arrangements. The main question we get before we do this is, “How do I formalise parenting arrangements?” These arrangements can be formalised by:

  • 1. Parenting Plan
  • 2. Consent Orders

There are benefits to each and it is important that you seek advice about which document is best for your individual circumstance before you make a decision.

Parenting Plans
A Parenting Plan is an Agreement between two or more parties about arrangements for children. This Agreement is usually between two parents. Parenting Plans are not legally binding. They are informal documents between parties. Parenting Plans can be flexible and easy to change. Parenting Plans can also be used as evidence of an agreement in place between parties before a Court if there is a dispute.

However, Parenting Plans may not be suitable for all families. If there is a history of the other party not following the Plan, it can be better to have the security of Consent Orders.

Consent Orders
Unlike Parenting Plans, Consent Orders are legally binding. These are Orders which are agreed and signed by the parties. Usually, they are sent to the Family Court of Australia to be approved by a Registrar or Judge. The benefit of Consent Orders is that they can be enforced by a Judge if one party breaches those Orders.

Consent Orders could be considered for more long-term arrangements. Consent Orders benefit parties where there is a history of one breaching an informal agreement.

Consent Orders provide less flexibility and are more difficult to change. The Full Court of the Family Court decided in the matter of Rice v Asplund (1979) that if parties want to change the Orders, they will need to apply to the Court and show a significant change in circumstances to justify why the Orders should be changed.

Our experienced family lawyers can assist you to negotiate and draft Parenting Plans and Consent Orders. We will explore your options with you moving towards the future.

If you are unsure whether a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders is the best option for you, or need help with future parenting arrangements, our family law team can help you. Contact us on 4220 7100 to speak with one of our experienced family lawyers today.

With many thanks to Jessica Strangio of Access Law Group for  sponsoring this article – you can also read more about Access Law Group and reach out to them HERE.