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Should you get a Parenting Plan or Parenting Order?

Parenting arrangements can be formalised by way of a Parenting Plan or Orders. 

If the parents are able to reach agreement without the assistance of the court then they have the option of a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders.  If the matter is determined by the Court then the matter will be finalised by way of Orders. 

These arrangements can include the following: 

  1. parental responsibility for a child; 
  2. who the child should live with; 
  3. how much time the child should spend with each parent; 
  4. how the parents communicate between themselves for issues surrounding the care of the child; 
  5. any communication the child is to have with other people including the other parent when they are not with them; 
  6. child support in some circumstances; 
  7. how disputes are to be resolved between the parents; and 
  8. any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child. 

The difference between a Parenting Plan and Orders are mainly in relation to their enforcement.  While Orders of the Court can be enforced by the Courts, Parenting Plans cannot. Parenting Plans are therefore thought of as being less formal and suitable in cases where the relationship between the parents is amicable.  In circumstances where one parent feels the other may not abide by the agreement Orders would be more suitable. 

Parenting Plans are easier to change than Court Orders which are notoriously difficult to change other than by agreement.  If the parents both agree then Court Orders can be amended by a later Parenting Plan which will override the Orders.  If the parents do not agree then the Court will only rehear the matter and consider amending the Orders if it can be shown that there has been a ‘significant change in circumstances’ since the Orders were made. 

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