Parenting Plans Vs Consent Orders
So you have reached an agreement regarding the care and living arrangements for your children and are wondering what to do next? This blog will assist you in knowing how best to formalise your agreement.
There are two types of agreement to formalise your agreement, the first being a Parenting Plan and the second being a Consent Order.
A Parenting Plan is not-binding, but it does outline the intentions of both parties. It is a document that outlines in basic terms, who the children are to live with and the time that they are to spend with each parent. There is no “magic” in a Parenting Plan, it is simply a document, that outlines in simple terms your agreement. It does not have to be witnessed, however, it is often recommended and there is no particular format that has to be followed.
Parenting Plans are particularly useful in circumstances where children are very young and their needs are constantly changing, or if parents want to trial a particular arrangement before committing to it long term. Although not binding, should your matter proceed to Court at some later date, the Judge is likely to consider the arrangements as a starting point when considering any interim or short-term Orders that have to be made.
Be careful when entering into a Parenting Plan, should Orders already be in place, as although a Parenting Plan is usually not binding, should it be entered into after an Order is made by the Court, the Parenting Plan varies the Orders and in such circumstances, is binding.
A Consent Order is binding, it outlines in basic terms, who the children are to live with and the time that they are to spend with each parent. In contrast to a Parenting Plan, there is a particular format that Consent Orders need to follow, considering that they are binding enforceable Orders. In essence, by filing an Application for Consent Orders in Court, you are asking the Court to formalise your parenting agreement. There is no need to attend Court and rather, it is an administrative process of the Court to approve the agreement and issue sealed Orders in terms of your agreement, provided that the Court is satisfied that the arrangements are in the best interests of the children.
Consent Orders are recommended where a stable arrangement is in place for the children and there are unlikely to be any significant change in circumstances in the near future. Due to the fact that they are binding, should one party fail to comply with the Orders, there can be consequences for that party.
A question that we are often asked, is, will the Police help me if the Mother/Father is not complying with the Parenting Plan or Consent Order? The short answer is no, in the absence of any domestic or family violence, it is a matter for the Family Courts, should there be any breach of a Consent Order or need for a decision to be made as to what may be in a child’s best interests.
As no two relationships are the same, there is no one size fits all agreement. Should you be wondering whether a Parenting Plan or Consent Order is best for your circumstances, please call our Gold Coast Family Lawyers or our Logan Family Lawyers for free family law advice.