Here’s What to Include in Your Parenting Plan in Australia

The best interests of your children should always be top of mind when creating a parenting plan. A parenting plan is an informal, written agreement that outlines commitments and arrangements one parent has made with the other parent regarding their children. The plan specifies various practical issues of parental responsibility. Let’s look at what exactly can and should be included in your parenting plan in Australia.


Parenting Plans and the Law in Australia

A parenting plan can take any form in Australia, however, under section 63C of the Family Law Act 1975, it must be made free from any threat, duress or coercion. The plan must also be in writing, and signed and dated by both parents.

It is important to note that parenting plans are not legally enforceable in Australia. In order to make an agreement legally binding, both parents must first agree on the arrangements outlined in the plan before submitting the plan to the Court using the Application for Consent Order form. From here, the parenting plan is built into a Parenting Order, which has the same legal effect as other consent orders. The court will always consider what is best for the children involved, as mentioned under section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975.


Must-Haves for Your Parenting Plan

In Australia, a standard parenting plan will generally include the following information:

Living Arrangements
The most common question that needs answering in a parenting plan is, where will the children live? If the intention is to split time between both parents, the parenting plan should outline how the time will be structured. For instance, the child might live with the father from Friday 4 pm through to Monday 9 am, and the mother from Monday 9 am through to Friday 4 pm. As for school holidays, both parents might decide to suspend any regular arrangements and create a new schedule that includes annual leave and destination holidays.

Special Occasions
A special occasion can be any special holiday or day, including Christmas, Easter and birthdays. Ultimately, what constitutes a “special day” and the arrangements associated with those days is entirely up to the parents.

Communication with Other Parent and Other Family Members
Your parenting plan should outline how the children will maintain contact with the other co-parent, as well as the extended family of both parents. Regular communication with both parents and grandparents can benefit the child’s wellbeing and development.

When it comes to maintaining contact, the parents must always think about what is best for their children. It might be best to maintain a good relationship and bond with their grandparents, who have already played a significant role in their life. A parenting plan might state how the child can communicate with the other parent or relatives, for instance, a child may be permitted to call the other parent once a day at 6 pm.

If both parents have equal shared parental responsibility for their children, they must work together to make major, long-term decisions regarding their children’s schooling needs. The parenting plan may specify what type of school the child will attend, who will pay the fees and how each parent will receive schooling information.

Children’s Activities
The parenting plan can also provide information regarding any sports or activities the children are interested in or will likely be of interest in the future. Similarly to education, the plan will decipher who will pay any fees associated with the activity and how information and schedules will be received and communicated. The parenting plan might also look at who can attend these activities. For example, both parents and extended family can attend the child’s soccer game on a Saturday.

How will the day-to-day costs of your children be shared? Who will pay for any medical costs? These finance questions, along with many others, should be answered in your parenting plan. However, if you have a child support agreement in place, discussing financial support in your plan might be irrelevant. If you do not have a child support agreement in place, your parenting plan is a great, informal way of including financial support considerations. Remember, this plan is not legally enforceable, unlike a child support agreement.

Parenting decisions
Major decisions that concern your children should not be taken lightly. With this in mind, your parenting plan should outline how you should communicate and handle making various decisions together. For instance, you may agree to meet up and discuss these decisions before finalising them.

These major decisions include moving house, changing schools and plans for family emergencies.


Want to Know More About What to Include in Your Parenting Plan?

We understand that every family’s circumstance is different. Therefore, what you include in your parenting plan is completely unique to you. If you would like to know more about creating a parenting plan in Australia, or, legally enforcing a parenting plan as a consent order, please get in touch with our team at Pullos Lawyers. Get in touch with our lawyers today via email, or call us in our Gold Coast office on (07) 5526 3646, or in Brisbane on (07) 3144 1641.