Arrangements in relation to children can be formalised by a:
Under the Family Law Act, parents are encouraged to reach an informal agreement between themselves about matters concerning their children by entering into a parenting plan.
There are advantages in having a parenting plan (compared to a parenting order) which include to encourage the parents:
The main disadvantage with a parenting plan (compared to a court order) is that it cannot be enforced. Parents who seek enforceable arrangements require court orders. These can be obtained by consent or through court proceedings.
Requirements for a parenting plan
A parenting plan is an agreement that:
A parenting order is a court order made under the Family Law Act and can deal with any of the above matters applicable to a parenting plan.
Although parenting plans are encouraged by the Family Law Act, in practice family law solicitors generally have a preference for parenting orders for 2 main reasons:
Parenting orders subject to later parenting plans
A parenting order in relation to a child can be changed by a subsequent parenting plan unless the parenting order specifically provides that the parenting order can only be varied by a subsequent order of the court and not by a parenting plan.
The effect of this is that parents should be careful to not override a parenting order by entering into a parenting plan without knowing the effects on the court order. By doing so parents may find themselves unable to enforce the old parenting order if it is inconsistent with the subsequent parenting plan.