When a family breaks up it is usually difficult for everyone, particularly if there are children involved. Most parents want to work together to make new arrangements for their children, such as where they will live, or who they will spend time with on special occasions.
Some parents may be able to work these issues out together, but if an agreement can’t be reached, what happens then? Do the parties go straight to Court?
Not necessarily. There are other options available.
There are some limited situations where you can apply directly to the Court for parenting orders. However, as a general rule of thumb, the Court will only intervene as a last resort. The parties must first participate in compulsory Family Dispute Resolution before the Court will accept an application for parenting orders.
If an agreement is reached during the dispute resolution process, parties can either enter into a Parenting Plan, or apply to the Court for a Consent Order.
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement between the parties setting out parenting arrangements for the children, such as who a child lives with, the time a child spends with the other party, or any aspect of the care, welfare or development of a child.
A Parenting Plan:
- does not need to be approved by the Court;
- is not legally binding, or enforceable; and
- can be changed if the parties agree to a new Parenting Plan.
A Consent Order is a written agreement between the parties. Unlike a Parenting Plan, a Consent Order:
- needs to be approved by the Court;
- is legally binding and has the same effect as a Court Order; and
- cannot be changed without making an application to the Court.
If no agreement is reached at Dispute Resolution, then either party is entitled to make an application to the Court for a Parenting Order.
If someone you know requires advice on, or assistance with preparing a Parenting Plan or Consent Order, we have experienced family lawyers available to assist you. Please contact us on (08) 9228 2881.
Disclaimer – The articles provided by Equitas Lawyers are for general information only. While every care has been taken in preparing these articles, they are intended to be a guide only, and no warranty is given as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained in them. The articles are not intended to be, nor should it be, relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters.