Parents do not have to go to court about the care arrangements for their children if they separate.
At Frichot & Frichot, as a matter of principle, we encourage clients to endeavour to reach an agreement with ex-partners about proposed arrangements for their children after separation. This may be achieved by direct negotiation or mediation, with or without the assistance of their lawyers.
Where an agreement can be reached, this can be formalised by Parenting Orders by consent (without the need for appearances in Court) or by a Parenting Plan entered into between the parents (which might involve others involved in the care and welfare of children, e.g. grandparents).
A Parenting Plan is an agreement signed by the parents that set out the care arrangements for each child of the relationship.
Parenting Plans may cover:
- who the children will live with
- the time they will spend with each parent and other people, e.g. grandparents
- how the parents will consult and communicate with each other about decisions regarding the children
- arrangements for special days such as family occasions, birthdays and holidays (including Christmas, Easter and term school holidays)
- a process to change the plan or resolve disagreements about the plan
- any other issue about parental responsibility or the care, welfare and development of children.
Although a Parenting Plan is not a legally enforceable agreement, the Family Court will take into account the terms of a Plan when they are considered to be in the best interests of the children. Parents who enter into a Parenting Plan are usually those who do not have issues regarding trust, reliability or honesty with the other parent. If there are significant issues between the parties, a Parenting Plan may not be ideal. In such cases, Consent Orders may be more appropriate.
The second option to formalise agreements regarding children’s arrangements is to ask the Family Court to make Parenting Orders by consent, which gives Court approval for the terms of the agreement.
The matters that can be covered by Consent Orders are essentially the same as issues involved in a Parenting Plan, that is, anything (except child support) that is associated with the care and welfare of children.
Parenting Orders are enforceable by the Family Court. They are formal documents filed in the Family Court and, if approved, are Orders of the Court. In these circumstances, if a parent fails to comply with the Order without the consent of the other parent, the terms of the Order will be enforced by the Court.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call us on (08) 9335 9877 or complete the form below to request an Introductory Consultation.