Our Experienced Family Lawyers Always Put The Best Interests of Your Children First
There are many options available to parents and other interested parties under Family law.
What options you choose will be based on whether:
- You have separated
- There has been a change in your circumstances
- You and your former partner are in agreement
- If there is an ongoing dispute about child arrangements
- Child abuse
- Family violence
- Or any other circumstances.
Our Family Lawyers are members of the Law Institute of Victoria and the Law Council of Australia Family Law Sections
Parenting Plan – Parenting Orders
A Parenting Plan is appropriate when you are both in agreement on how to parent your child. A parenting plan with no court orders in place, is a privately written agreement between parents about the arrangements for the child. These arrangements include where the child will live, where and with whom the child will spend its time, who the child can communicate with, and other decisions that affect the welfare of the child.
You do not need to take any action unless you want to formally recognise these arrangements.
Beware: Parenting plans are not enforceable, however they can be considered in future if court proceedings were necessary. Parenting plans simply help parents and children establish a healthy routine and avoid disputes. If you want to formally recognise these arrangements you will need a Parenting Order registered with the Family Court.
Existing Court Orders and Parenting Plans
If there are existing court orders in place, a parenting plan can be used to vary the court order by agreement in most cases.
The parenting plan may be enforceable in a family law court like parenting orders.
Where parents are unable to resolve a dispute or ongoing issues about parenting matters, they may need to bring the issue before a family law court to have it determined.
The most common disputes that go to court are where one parent withholds a child from the other, or where a parent moves away without the other parent’s consent, where parents are unable to resolve disputes themselves, or where a parent or grandparent holds concerns about the welfare of a child.
Court proceedings carry various powers under the Family Law Act to resolve issues and disputes including through:
- Family reports where a counsellor may interview the children, parents, and others to determine what the issues are and to see if the children have a view.
- The appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer who represents the children’s interests in the proceedings.
- The ability to compel parents to attend psychological assessment if there are concerns about behaviour.
- The ability to have a parent complete alcohol and or drug testing to determine if substance addiction or substance use is an issue.
- To require documents and information be provided from third parties to be provided to or brought before a court to obtain information relevant to the dispute.
- To allow expert evidence to be presented to the Court.
Where there is an ongoing dispute which cannot be resolved, court proceedings will resolve the dispute.
A Parenting Plan is a voluntary written agreement between parents that can be an important tool in a parent’s toolkit.
A parenting plan is used to:
- Make an agreement about children including:
- Who can make decisions about the children’s welfare and how decisions will be made.
- Who the children will live with.
- Who the children will spend time with including each parent and other people such as grandparents.
- Times when the children will communicate with a parent or another person such as grandparents.
What happens with Parenting Orders during Coronavirus lockdowns?
- Parenting Orders continue regardless of whether your child is required to attend school. So alternate arrangements will need to be made to accommodate for your child being at home.
- A Child is left at home: If your co-parent cannot make alternative arrangements for your child, and the child is left at home alone, contact us for immediate professional legal advice.
- Attending School: If co-parents cannot agree on whether a child should be attending school, the position will be that the parent in whose care the child is in will decide if it is appropriate, unless there is a genuine risk to the child. If you believe there is a genuine risk in this regard, we can provide immediate professional legal advice.
- Using self-isolation of the child: In these uncertain times, co-parents may use self-isolation of the child as a means to reduce the court-ordered parenting time of another parent. This may result in a Contravention Order. However, the court may allow the contravention of parenting orders in circumstances where the contravening parent can establish that it was done for a genuine reason. Contact us for advice.
- Contraventions of Parenting Orders: If you believe someone has contravened a parenting order or if you require advice on how to defend the self-isolation of your child under genuine circumstances, please contact our office for immediate legal advice.
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