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What is a parenting plan?

Emma Mead

Managing Director, Burke Mead

Emma is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, accredited by the Law Society of NSW. She is also a National Accreditor Mediator, and specialises in all personal injury disputes, locally and across the state. Emma brings legal excellence, a compassionate approach and common sense to the management of her clients and the Burke Mead firm.

Separations are already one of life’s most stressful events, but the stakes are even higher when children are involved.

There are three different types of agreements when it comes to the care of children after separation, explains Emma Mead of Burke and Mead Lawyers.

  1. A parenting plan
  2. A consent order
  3. A parenting order

People will often refer to these various documents as a Custody Plan, but they are used in different circumstances and have different legal impacts.

A parenting plan is like a diary. It’s a written agreement setting out who will see the children on each day.

A parenting plan is developed and agreed jointly. These decisions are often made at the initial point of separation when new routines must be quickly established for the care of children. If an agreement is reached, you and your ex-partner do not need to go to court.

Note: A parenting plan is not a legally enforceable agreement. It is different from a parenting order, which is made by a court.

A consent order is a written agreement that is approved by a court, based on decisions that you have reached with your ex-partner.

This can cover parenting arrangements for children, but might also set out any financial arrangements such as property and maintenance.

Consent orders have the same legal effect as if they had been made by a judicial officer after a court hearing. They are designed to finalise how your separation will work.

A parenting order is a court-authorised document that sets out the care arrangements for the child/ren. It is legally binding.

A parenting order is usually a decision made by the court when parents can’t decide together. This document is generally issued at settlement stage.

In all circumstances, the court must be satisfied that any orders you ask for are in the best interest of the child/ren.

Note: any person concerned with the care, welfare and development of a child can apply for parenting orders.

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  • We lost our daughter during the separation. Now we have her back. We are happy with how it all worked out. Anonymous
A separation guide character parent with their child

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