It’s important to put any verbal agreements that both parents make regarding the custody of their child in writing even if there’s no conflict involved. This is because the amicable nature of your relationship can always change for the worse in the future, and verbal agreements alone aren’t legally binding or enforceable. Documenting an agreement in writing ensures a safety net in the event the relationship changes. This can be done through a parenting plan or consent orders.
A Parenting Plan is a written agreement made by parents that outlines the structure of their child custody arrangement. This method allows for flexibility and is particularly beneficial in cases where parents require such flexibility. It’s recommended to get advice from a lawyer who can help parents negotiate and create a plan outside of court, incorporating factors such as equal time sharing and child support. PCL Lawyers has a great team of family lawyers in Sydney who can do just that.
Parenting plans don’t need to adhere to strict guidelines and can be as broad or as specific as the parents agree upon. They don’t have to account for the long term and can be revised when needed. The plan typically covers details such as which parent the child will live with, visitation arrangements, holiday and birthday schedules, financial contributions, and decision-making processes. It can also include specific details such as communication with extended family and medical professionals.
One advantage of having a Parenting Plan is that court attendance isn’t necessary. However, it’s important to note that these plans aren’t legally binding or enforceable, though courts will consider them when resolving disputes between parents.
Consent orders can be used as an alternative method to record custody arrangements if both parents have reached an agreement in a friendly manner. Unlike parenting plans, consent orders approved by the Court become legally binding and enforceable under the Family Law Act.
The Family Court will review the orders and decide in the best interests of the child. If approved, the Court will formalise the agreement in the consent orders. Opting for consent orders provides a higher level of certainty and security, as breaching them can have legal consequences.