Recent changes to the Family Law system recognise that children need the support and involvement of both parents (and other significant people) after family breakdown and separation.
These changes are the most significant reforms to the Family Law system in the past 30 years that focus on cooperation and encourage separating parents to work together to make arrangements in the best interests of their child/ren.
Where parents are not able to agree they must attend Family Dispute Resolution with an Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (except where an exemption applies).
Most significantly, the law now presumes that parental responsibility is shared equally (except where there are issues of family violence or abuse). Also, that it is in the best interests of child/ren to spend equal or substantial and significant time with both parents that provides participation in all aspects of child/ren's lives, not just weekends and holidays (except where this is not practicable in the circumstances or where there are issues of family violence or abuse).
A Parenting Plan is an agreement in writing between the parents (but may include other significant people) that is dated and signed. Importantly, this agreement must be made free from any threat, duress or coercion.
A Parenting Plan may deal with a range of issues as set out in the Family Law Act, including:
- Where the child/ren live;
- The time the child/ren spends with each parent (or other significant people);
- Allocation of parental responsibility and the way parents will discuss and consult with each other about major decisions affecting their child/ren;
- Types of communication the child/ren have with both parents (Eg. Telephone, Internet, SMS, Letter, etc.);
- The way disputes are resolved or the terms of the agreement may be changed; and
- Any aspect of the child/ren's care, welfare or development or parental responsibility.
A Parenting Plan cannot be registered with the Court, but will "trump" an existing Court Order.
Parenting Plans impose no legal obligation however the Court must take them into account when determining an application or subsequent contravention proceedings. Also, in certain circumstances the Court may Order that a Parenting Plan may only be varied by a further Court Order to protect a child/ren from harm, or where it is clear that threat, coercion, or duress was used to gain the agreement.
We provide a safe and relaxed environment for you to discuss arrangements and offer a wealth of experience generating solutions to help you create cost effective and long lasting Parenting Plans in the best interests of your child/ren.