Parenting is not always as straightforward as it seems when parties are separated. There are no strict formal rules on how parents should make agreements to care for their children.
At Joss Legal, clients often ask if there is a way to make their parenting arrangements formal without applying for Court Orders.
Putting things in writing can assist the parties in having a clear understanding of the future arrangements, and make it less likely for misunderstandings to occur.
This blog post is intended to help you understand what a parenting plan is and how to use one.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a way of creating a formal agreement about parenting, without applying for orders in the Family Court of Western Australia. Parents may enter into a parenting plan under s 63C of the Family Law Act 1975. The parenting plan focuses on the needs and the best interests of the child, similar Parenting Orders when made in the Family Court. The only difference between parenting plans and Parenting Orders is a parenting plan is not legally enforceable.
What issues are dealt with in parenting plans?
Parenting plans can deal with any aspect of the care, welfare and development of a child. Types of issues that may be covered include but are not limited to:
- how the parents will share parental responsibility
- who and where a child will live
- the time a child will spend with each parent
- the time a child will spend with other important people
- how a child will communicate with the other parent or other people
- arrangements for special days such as birthdays and holidays
- details about sport, school, religion and medical treatment
- processes to change the plan or resolve any disagreements about it
- any other issues the parents want to include about the care, welfare, or development of a child
What is the form of a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a written record of an agreement between parents about the care of a child. It is signed and dated but it is not a legally enforceable agreement.
How are parenting plans changed?
Parenting plans can be changed at any time provided the parents agree to the change.
What happens if the parenting plan is not followed?
Parenting plans are not enforceable in the Family Court of Western Australia therefore the Court will not be able to make the other parent follow the parenting plan.
If the parents continue to disagree about the parenting arrangements, then the parties may need to apply for a Parenting Order from the Family Court of Western Australia. Parenting plans may be considered by the Court if the parties eventually apply for parenting orders.
If you want help developing a parenting plan, or are having issues with a parenting plan feel free to get in touch with our team at Joss Legal.
 Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).