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Parenting Plans & Consent Orders

Parenting Plans & Consent Orders

Wednesday 2nd of September 2020
By: Eliza Stanley, Law Clerk, Coote Family Lawyers

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What are parenting plans and consent orders?

A parenting plan is a written document signed and dated by both parties setting out any agreement reached in relation to matters affecting their children. Parenting plans can only be entered into by the parents of the child.

A parenting plan can deal with matters such as the person with whom a child is to live, the time a child is to spend with another person, the communications a child is to have with another person and the maintenance of a child.

Parenting plans are preferable in circumstances where the parents are amicable, can freely communicate about the issues relating to their children and want to maintain control over their parenting arrangements. Parenting plans are also flexible and can be changed at any time upon written agreement by both parties.

The limitation of course, is that parenting plans are not legally enforceable.  This can create problems when one party does not uphold their side of the agreement and the other party has limited means of enforcing the agreement.

A way to avoid this situation is for the parties to file an Application for Consent Orders with the Court to formalise their agreement.  If the Court is satisfied that the agreement is in the child's best interest, the Order will be made.

The benefit of a Consent Order is that it is legally enforceable, meaning if one party is in breach of the Orders, consequences may apply to the breaching party. The limitation of Consent Orders is that they can be hard to vary.

Parents should however be aware that they can vary a Consent Order by entering into a subsequent parenting plan, unless the Order expressly provides for it to have precedence. Parents should be cautious of doing this as once they have entered into a subsequent parenting plan, the previous Consent Order is unenforceable so far as it is inconsistent with the parenting plan.

Ultimately, it is preferable that parents should attempt to reach an agreement between themselves first, without court intervention. If an agreement can be reached between the parents, they should then consider whether the agreement needs to be enforceable by way of a Consent Order.

The team at Coote Family Lawyers are recognised as being the best family lawyers in Melbourne. Call us on (03) 9804 0035 for advice.

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