16 terms

Parenting plans and responsibilities

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Parenting plan
is an informal agreement that the parents make in order to determine how they will continue to care for and support their children when they are no longer together.
When a married couple divorces
the law encourages parents to agree about matters concerning their child, rather than seeking an order from the court.
In Australia, do I have to make my parenting plan with the other parent?
You are encouraged by the Family Law Act to cooperate and work together to come up with a parenting plan for your children.
What if we can't reach an agreement on our Australian parenting plan?
You can attend mediation or seek out other professionals who work with family dispute resolution to help you.
Parenting order
is a legally enforceable document that parents are required to abide by.
How can I obtain a parenting order in Australia?
All Australian parenting orders must be approved (or created) by the Family Court.
If you are unable to agree on a parenting plan
you will have to have a court hearing or a trial. In a hearing or trial, the Family Court will listen to the parents' ideas for parenting arrangements and make an order that the parents must follow.
In Australia, what does a parenting order contain?
Who the child will live with.
How much time the child will spend with each parent.
How much time the child will spend with other people, such as grandparents.
The allocation of parental responsibility.
How the child will communicate with a parent they do not live with.
What can be included in a parenting plan?
■ how the parents will share parental responsibility and consult about decisions (like which school the child will attend)
■ 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 (eg by phone, email or letters)
■ what arrangements need to be made for special days, such as birthdays and holidays
■ what process can be used to change the plan or resolve any disagreements about the plan
■ maintenance of a child*, and
■ any other issue about parental responsibility or the care,
welfare and development of the child.
Who can make a parenting plan?
To be a parenting plan under the Family Law Act 1975, the plan must be made and signed by both parents of the child. However, other persons, such as grandparents or step-parents, can be included in a parenting plan.
What actually are parental responsibilities?
Consider your children's needs as a priority and make arrangements for your children that are in their best interests.
Protect your children from physical or psychological harm or the risk of harm.
Encourage your children to talk to and see the other parent regularly, unless this would place your children at risk of harm.
Not say or do things that stop your children communicating with the other parent, or that might harm their relationship with the other parent.
Encourage and assist your children to enjoy their culture.
Maintain your children financially.
In most cases, participate in major long-term decisions about your children.
Equal Shared Parental Responsibility
the law presumes that it is in the best interest of a child for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility.

This does not mean that the child should necessarily spend equal time with each parent.

Rather, equal shared parental responsibility means that both parents have an equal role in making decisions about major long-term issues that affect their children.
What does the "best interests" of children mean in family law?
Family law considers children's best interests are met by:
Protecting children from physical or psychological harm, abuse, neglect or family violence (including being exposed to those things).
Ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents having meaningful involvement in their lives to the extent possible within the best interests of the child.
Ensuring children receive proper parenting to help them reach their full potential.
Ensuring parents fulfill their responsibilities for the care, welfare and development of their children.
"Best interests" focuses on the responsibilities of parents for their children.
Equal time
If the child spending equal time with each of you is reasonably practicable, and in the best interests of the child, you could consider an arrangement of this kind.
What is a family report
provides information about you, your children and your family to help the court identify what is in your children's best interests. A family report is one of many documents that the court will consider when making decisions about your children.
A family report may include
parental roles and responsibilities.
how your children will spend time and communicate with their parents, family members and other significant people
in their lives.
any safety issues.
support services or interventions that may help the children or adults.