Parenting Plan or Consent Order
I get asked this question a lot in family mediation. What is the difference between a parenting plan and a consent order? Today I am going to outline the fundamental differences.
The most crucial distinction between a Parenting Plan and a Parenting Order; is that only a Court can make an Order, and it is legally enforceable, whereas a Parenting Plan is an agreement made between the mother and father without the involvement of the court and is not legally enforceable.
Let's clarify this in more detail.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents that sets out the living arrangements, parental responsibility and care details for your children. It may be very detailed, or it might just cover the primary care arrangements; this is a decision for the parents.
A parenting plan must be in writing, dated, and signed by both parents. You can change it anytime, but it must be signed and dated again.
It may affect the amount of child support you receive as it may be provided to the Child Support Agency to explain the care arrangements.
Adelaide Family Mediation has a team of family dispute resolution practitioners that can assist in making a parenting plan with your ex-partner or another family member.
While they have some consideration in the family court, parenting plans are not legally enforceable. This means that if one parent does not follow the terms of a parenting plan, the Family Court (or any other legal avenue) cannot enforce the terms of the parenting plan. However, if litigation was later required about the care arrangements of your children, the terms of a parenting plan can provide the Court providing evidentiary information about the agreed care previous care arrangements, your lawyer would discuss this with you in more detail. If you want to enforce your parenting plan lawfully, you can lodge it with the family law court for it to become a consent order.
What is a consent order?
A written agreement (or parenting plan) approved by the court is called a consent order. The terms of parenting orders can be the same as those of a parenting plan covering a range of issues concerning the care arrangements for children, education and medical matters and communication between parents and children.
The court makes it with the parents' agreement. It has the same legal enforceability as a court order. You can obtain a consent order by completing a do-it-yourself application that is available from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. There is a filing fee of $180. The consent order application can cover the arrangements for the care of the children or your financial and property matters. If completing the do-it-yourself kit is something other than what you are comfortable with, you can engage a lawyer to complete and file this on your behalf.
If you are considering separation or have recently separated, the Adelaide Family Mediation team of experienced mediators can assist you. You can contact us for assistance by phone or email to arrange a telephone or in-person appointment. Please note that Adelaide Family Mediation does not provide legal advice only legal information and can not advise you legally.