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What is the difference between a parenting plan and a consent order?
By Lucy Padula
Where parties reach agreement as to the care arrangements of their children, they may choose to formalise their agreement by way of consent orders or by way of a parenting plan.
Quite often when parties attend at family dispute resolution and reach agreement, at first instant the family dispute resolution practitioner will prepare a parenting plan for the parties to sign, which on some circumstances will be converted into consent orders by lawyers.
A parenting plan is a written agreement which is dated and signed by the parties. A parenting plan can provide that the parties will review the terms at a later date, which can be useful where parties are trialling a particular arrangement. Although it is not a court order, and therefore not enforceable, parties may refer to what the care arrangements were as set out in the parenting plan, should proceedings be issued. However, as already stated, the court is not bound to follow the terms of the parenting plan. When the court considers what parenting orders should be made, the best interests of the child/ren is the court’s paramount consideration.
Where parents have reached an agreement as to the care arrangements for a child, they can make an application to the court to formalise the arrangement by way of consent orders. The application is filed with the court and a Registrar will usually consider whether to make the proposed orders in the absence of the parties, taking into account the provisions of the Family Law Act 1975. Consent orders are enforceable by the court.
If you would like further information about what to consider when attending at family dispute resolution and/or considering the care arrangements for your children, feel free to contact us to arrange an appointment.