Without a doubt, everyone wants the best for their children. However, parents often have conflicting views regarding which type of arrangement is best for their children when undergoing a separation or divorce. 

Parental rights in Victoria

According to the Australian Family Law Act 1975, each parent has parental responsibility to care for their children and make decisions about them. Neither parent is more important than the other in the eyes of the law. Therefore, it is the parent’s responsibility to make arrangements that are in the best interest of their child or children following a separation. 

Parenting arrangements post-separation

Some families work out a parenting arrangement themselves, whereas other couples have difficulty reaching an agreement. When an agreement can’t be achieved, there are two options: draft a parenting plan or apply for a parenting order.

Parenting plans

Informal agreements; parenting plans must be made in writing, signed and dated by both parents. Parenting plans should be as detailed as possible with the following particulars taken into account:

  • Living arrangements
  • Special occasion arrangements
  • Education 
  • Health and medical decisions
  • Communication between parents or caregivers
  • Changeover plans
  • Financial/expenses responsibilities for the child or children
  • Interstate or international travel

Anyone can draft a parenting agreement. However, having an experienced family lawyer in Victoria review or prepare a parenting plan for you will ensure minimal disruption to your child or children’s life. 

Parenting orders

Parenting orders can be made by consent where both parents agree on the arrangements and seek to have them legally formalised.  Or if parents cannot agree, usually, the last resort, an application for a parenting order, is made to the Court when the parents cannot agree on future parenting arrangements. 

Families are complex. Sometimes a parenting order will need to be detailed and explicit regarding various situations. There are times the parenting order will be fairly general, allowing room for negotiation on dates and times. In other instances, circumstances mean it needs to be more detailed and certain. 

Difference between parenting plans and parenting orders

Put quite simply, a parenting order is binding and enforceable by the Court, whereas a parenting plan is not. There are no legal repercussions of breaching a parenting plan. 

Discussion parenting matters with a family lawyer in Geelong

Before signing any document related to the care of your children discussion your situation with Geelong’s experienced family lawyer, WJM. Our compassionate family law team understand the separation process and its impact on children so that we can advise you of your legal obligations and rights. 

For compassionate yet comprehensive legal advice, book your confidential appointment with the family lawyers at Whyte, Just & Moore in Geelong. Servicing the Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast shires, our family law team helps clients navigate parenting matters with minimal disruption for their child or children.