Creating a Parenting Plan that Works for Everyone

Separation and divorce is a hard time for everyone, but especially for the children involved. In Australia, separating parents are encouraged to work out co-parenting arrangements for their children between themselves without going to court, and one way to outline these arrangements is through the preparation of a parenting plan. Having open and clear communication from the start benefits everyone, sets a positive foundation for co-parenting and helps to prevent issues and disputes arising. As an experienced child custody lawyer in Melbourne, Robert Wood and Associates understands the importance of separating parents engaging in honest communication from the outset. Read on to find out more about parenting plans and how they can help you.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A voluntary agreement that outlines how separated parents will raise their children. This plan covers the daily responsibilities of each parent, the practical considerations of a child’s daily life, as well as how parents will consult each other on important long-term issues. To be a parenting plan under the Family Law Act 1975, the plan must be in writing, as well as signed and dated by both parents. Parenting plans are not same as a parenting order and are not legally enforceable, however parents can ask the court to make an order in the terms of their plan.

Why is a Parenting Plan Important?

When parents separate, the law presumes that it is in the best interest of a child for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility (except in situations of violence or abuse). While this does not mean that children spend equal time with both parents, it means that both parents have an equal role in making decisions about major issues that affect their children. Therefore, a parenting plan is important not only to determine aspects of day to day life, but also to determine how parents will consult with each other and come to a joint decision about long-term issues.

What Should Be Included in a Parenting Plan?

Every family’s plan will be unique, and some will be comprehensive while others will contain fewer details. The plan should practical, simple and in the best interests of the child. Some things that may be covered in your plan may include:

  • who the child will live with
  • what time the child will spend with each parent
  • what time the child will spend with other people, such as grandparents
  • how the child will communicate with each parent or other people
  • how co-parents will communicate with each other
  • who will care for the children on school holidays, public holidays and sick days
  • who will arrange, coordinate and attend extra-curricular activities
  • agreements for going on holidays
  • arrangements for special days, such as birthdays
  • will one or both parents need to attend doctor appointments?
  • how should the parents notify each other if there’s an emergency?
  • how you will handle disagreements and conflict – will you meet with a mediator or therapist before going to court?
  • how you are going to consult with each other when you need to make decisions about long-term issues.
  • any other issue about parental responsibility or the care, welfare and development of the child.

You can also choose to include maintenance of a child; however special rules apply about including child support in your parenting plan.

The aim of a parenting plan is to provide a clear understanding of how to handle particular situations and to create a cooperative and flexible co-parenting partnership. Children are entitled to have a strong, healthy relationship with both parents, and the best way to do this is outline expectations right from the start. Agreeing parenting arrangements after separation isn’t easy, but when done right, it can save a lot of stress and heartache for both parents and children in the long run.

If you are going through a separation and there’s children involved, it’s important you seek expert legal advice from an experienced child custody lawyer or divorce lawyer. Vermont, Boronia, Ringwood and Wantirna locals can rely on Robert Wood and Associates for honest and accurate advice and affordable rates. Give us a call today on (03) 9762 3877 or contact us online now.

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