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Parenting Orders in Sydney

After a separation, it’s crucial to establish parenting and child custody arrangements to ensure both parents and children know what to expect. Ideally, this should be done through a formal agreement rather than an informal one.

The primary goal is to prioritise the best interests of the child. Any agreement should be put in writing either as a parenting plan or consent orders. At PCL Lawyers, our family and child custody lawyers in Sydney can help you develop these agreements.

The written agreement should outline how the child will spend their time with each parent during the week and on weekends. It should also include schedules for birthdays and school holidays, as well as details regarding travel arrangements.

The law doesn’t give one parent more importance than the other, and both have an obligation to make arrangements that are in the best interests of their child. To ensure that any agreement made is as future-proof as possible, it’s best to plan ahead.

parenting orders lawyers sydney

Parenting Plans vs. Parenting Orders

Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans are arrangements that can be made privately between individuals. These define the details of how children will be taken care of, but they aren’t legally binding. They’re advantageous because they’re adaptable and suitable for parents who require a plan that can be adjusted in the future. Furthermore, it’s possible to create a Parenting Plan after the Court decides to alter the previous order. Our lawyers in Sydney always advise clients to be flexible in these plans.

Consent Orders

Consent orders are more formal than Parenting Plans and can be enforced by the Court under the Family Law Act. Each party will clearly understand how much time the child is to spend with each parent and other details related to their schedule and care. Consent orders can be obtained through litigation by a judge or through an amicable application filed with the Court. Once stamped by the Court, it becomes legally binding and must be followed.

There are two types of consent orders:

  • Interim Orders – Temporary orders that can be amended at a later date when the matter is heard in full.
  • Final Orders – Permanent orders that can only be changed under certain circumstances. These orders can be obtained by either parent submitting an agreed set of orders or following a court hearing that settles the issue.

How Do I Obtain a Parenting Order?

Parents can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia if they agree on the orders they want for their child. A Registrar will review the joint application to ensure that the orders are practical and have the best interests of the child in mind. If the orders are deemed suitable, the Court will provide a stamped copy of the order.

If the parents cannot agree on the orders, the Family Law Act usually requires an attempt at mediation. If no agreement can be reached or one parent doesn’t attend mediation, a section 60I certificate will be issued so that the parent can make a Court Application.

To file an Application, a parent will need to work with a child custody lawyer to draft the Application and supporting Affidavit material. The orders requested must be specific and outline exactly what’s being sought. The PCL Lawyers team can advise and assist you with this process.

When determining a court order, the family court will consider the best interests of the child and review all relevant information presented by both parties. The decision is usually final and can be costly to amend or appeal. For this reason, it’s important to have legal advice and representation. This will ensure the case is presented properly and helps you defend yourself against any accusations from the other parent.

You can rely on our Sydney lawyers to give you the best guidance. Our legal advice is highly personalised and includes practical steps to improve your chances of success. We’ll work with you to pre-empt issues, negate counter arguments and carefully respond to any accusations to ensure the case is well presented to the court and at mediations.

What Does a Parenting Order Cover?

Parenting orders cover a range of different issues, including:

Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility pertains to making decisions about a child. Initially, both parents share equal responsibility to act in the child’s best interest, but the Court has authority to divide and allocate that responsibility. Additionally, the Court can settle disagreements regarding particular matters such as which parent is accountable for the child’s education or religious upbringing.

‘Live With’ Orders

‘Live with’ orders specify the parent with whom the child will reside and can establish the duration of each arrangement. For instance, a shared custody agreement typically involves a weekly rotation of the child living with each parent.

‘Spend Time With’ Orders

‘Spend Time with’ orders are instructions that specify the amount of time a child can spend with each parent, encompassing everything from holidays and birthdays to other special occasions. Such orders are typically made when the child lives primarily with one parent, but also spends time with the other parent on a set schedule such as every other weekend.

Changeover Arrangements

Changeover arrangements pertain the process of transferring children from one parent to the other. While this is quite straightforward in some cases, some parents may not want to interact with each other which can make things more difficult. In these situations, specific locations such as schools, contact centres and police stations can be designated for this purpose.

‘Communicate With’ Orders

‘Communicate with’ orders are arrangements that specify the method by which the child will communicate with the non-custodial parent.

School & Extra-Curricular Activities

Parenting orders can address and resolve conflicts between parents with regards to taking care of the child, specifying what activities the child is allowed to engage in with regards to school and extra-curricular activities as well as public transport and more.

Interstate & International Travel

A parenting order has the ability to define the necessary travel arrangements and the kind of approval needed for a child to journey to another state or country.


The courts have the ability to clarify whether a child needs the consent of both parents to acquire a passport. If you’re worried about the other parent taking your child abroad, you should immediately reach out to our family lawyers in Sydney, as it may be necessary to obtain an urgent airport watch list order to prevent any overseas travel.

Other Matters

Additional concerns pertaining to your family can be addressed in a court order and resolved accordingly.

Why Should I Get a Parenting Order?

A parenting order is a legally binding document that outlines the responsibilities and obligations of each parent, covering important areas such as medical decisions, living and travel arrangements, and financial obligations. The order can be used to settle disputes and is enforceable by law, which can include involvement from police and other agencies. However, it cannot anticipate all future issues and can be amended. If one parent breaches the order, the other parent can take legal action, which is especially important in cases where one parent is unreliable or there are disputes.

Custody & ‘Live With’ Arrangements

After a divorce or separation, various custody arrangements are available to parents that can be tailored to their family’s specific needs. These arrangements may involve splitting time and responsibilities between both parents in different ways, such as 50/50 custody. Obtaining full custody of a child can be challenging, especially if the other parent is seeking shared custody or co-parenting. While there may be situations where full custody is deemed to be in the child’s best interest, it’s generally only awarded under specific circumstances.

In disputed custody cases, our lawyers in Sydney can scrutinise the opposing argument and present our clients’ cases in the most favourable light possible to the court. We have a track record of obtaining positive outcomes for our clients even in challenging situations with low chances of success.

What is an Injunction?

Parenting orders may include injunctions that prohibit certain behaviours. This can include things like staying at a location after dropping off a child during a custody exchange or allowing a child to be around specific individuals. In the event that alcohol or drugs are involved, the Court may also impose restrictions on a parent’s behaviour, such as prohibiting the use of substances. The Court may also issue additional orders, including supervised drug tests.

Getting an Order Revised

It’s possible that changes in circumstances may require alterations to an existing order with regards to parenting arrangements. Such changes can arise due to fresh disagreements between the parties involved, changes in circumstances or through mutual agreement. If you’re uncertain about how to proceed, our family lawyers can provide guidance to help you achieve a good outcome.

Contraventions of Orders

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia takes violations of court orders seriously. If one parent unreasonably violates an order, it’s highly recommended that prompt legal advice is sought from a family lawyer to take proactive action.

Penalties apply if and when the Court determines that a person has intentionally disobeyed an order or made no effort to comply with it. For example, the person may have to attend parenting programs and/or compensate the other parent for time and money spent with the child. Other penalties include revised parenting orders, fines, community orders, and even imprisonment for up to 12 months.

In some cases, a reasonable excuse can be used as a defence for not complying with a parenting order. Our experienced family lawyers can provide advice on seeking enforcement or defending a claim. We understand that legal matters involving children can be emotionally charged. We’re here to offer insight and practical advice to navigate the process.

Speak to one of our family lawyers in Sydney today by calling 1300 907 335 or enquiring online.

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