When separating, both parents are required to think of arrangements for any children of the relationship/marriage. This can just be something informal, or in some situations a more formal arrangement. Putting an agreement in writing can help parties have a clearer understanding about the future and make it less likely for disagreements to arise.
This can be done formally or informally using a parenting plan or consent orders. The main difference between the two are their involvement in the Family Court of Western Australia and their legal enforceability, meaning, whether a Court can force the parties to follow the agreement or not. Here at Joss Legal, we can provide advice about both processes to assist with your family law matters.
A parenting plan is a way of creating a formal agreement about parenting, without applying for orders in the Family Court of Western Australia. Consent orders are made by the Court to formalise how parental responsibilities will be allocated in the best interests of the child.
Similar to consent orders, parenting plans focus on the best interests of the child. They can cover anything to do with children and parenting including but not limited to:
- Parental responsibility for the children;
- Where the children live;
- How and when they communicate with each parent and other family members;
- Details about extra-curricular, medical, religious and schooling matters; and
- How the parenting plan will be changed in the future, if required.
A parenting plan is simple and can be changed freely if both parties agree. It must be in writing, signed and dated by each party. If there are other important people involved in the children’s lives, including grandparents or step-parents, they can also be asked to sign and agree to the parenting plan. Consent Orders can only be changed by making an application to the Court.
Parenting plans are not enforceable in the Family Court and the Court will not be able to make the other parent follow the parenting plan. A Consent Order, however, can be enforced by the Court.
Parties can change their parenting plan into consent orders if they apply and have it approved by the Court. The Court can consider the parenting plan when looking to make parenting orders.
If both parents consent to the orders, you do not need a Family Dispute Resolution certificate or to attend a court hearing.
Whether a parenting plan or Consent Orders is the best option will depend on your unique situation.
At Joss Legal, we have experienced lawyers who can assist you with either a parenting plan or consent orders should you require one. Please do not hesitate to call us on (08) 6559 7480 or email us on email@example.com to book an appointment today.