A parenting plan is an agreement that:
- is in writing; and
- is or was made between the parents of a child; and
- is signed by the parents of the child; and
- is dated; and
- deals with a matter or matters mentioned in subsection (2).
An agreement is not a parenting plan for the purposes of the Family Law Act unless it is made free from any threat, duress or coercion.
A parenting plan may deal with one or more of the following:
- the person or persons with whom a child is to live;
- the time a child is to spend with another person or other persons;
- the allocation of parental responsibility for a child (including for making major long terms decisions);
- if 2 or more persons are to share parental responsibility for a child–the form of consultations those persons are to have with one another about decisions to be made in the exercise of that responsibility;
- the communication a child is to have with another person or other persons (including letter, email, telephone, or any other electronic means);
- maintenance of a child;
- the process to be used for resolving disputes about the terms or operation of the plan;
- the process to be used for changing the plan to take account of the changing needs or circumstances of the child or the parties to the plan;
- any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child.
It is a requirement in the Family Law Act that an adviser who gives advice or assistance to people in relation to parental responsibility for a child following the breakdown of the relationship between those people, must:
- Inform them that they could consider entering a parenting plan in relationship to the child; and
- Inform them about where they can get further assistance to develop a parenting plan and the content of the plan; and
- Inform them of those matters outlined above that can be dealt with in a parenting plan.
The advisor must also give advice as to the options for parenting arrangements that are available.
When giving this advice the advisor should explain that the paramount consideration of the Court when determining what the future arrangement for the child should be, is what is in the child’s best interests.
Our next article will address what criteria the Court takes into consideration when determining what is in a child’s best interests.
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