Parenting Plans and Consent Orders are both ways parents can record agreements they have reached in relation to their children. These agreements can include things such as:
Where and with whom the children will live;
- How and when the children will spend time and communicate with each parent;
- Who has parental responsibility for the children;
- Arrangements for special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, Easter and other holidays;
- Arrangements if parents have agreed children may travel overseas; and
- What school the children will go to.
These are a formal document issued by a Family Law Court. Consent Orders are obtained by completing and signing the approved form (an Application for consent orders) attaching the agreement reached, and filing it with the Court. The agreement must be approved by the Court and the Court must be satisfied the agreement is in the bests interests of the child or children before making the agreement into an order. There is no requirement that the parties obtain independent legal advice before filing the application.
Consent Orders are enforceable. That is, consequences can apply if a party is found to have breached a Court Order without reasonable excuse. Punishments vary depending on the severity of the breach.
It is a defence to a contravention application to show a later parenting plan amended the Consent Orders.
These are not filed with the Court and are not enforceable. No particular format is required. The agreement simply needs to be in writing, signed and dated by both parties. If a party breaches a parenting plan it is not possible to bring an application to enforce the plan. In such a case, a party would need to apply to the Court for orders in terms of the parenting plan, before any enforcement action could be taken.
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