Examples of parenting plans, consent orders and parenting orders are available here for your information.
- The samples / templates may be useful if you are a separated parent and involved in discussions, formal mediation or Family Court of Australia proceedings over the care of your child or children.
- The examples cover the substantive parts of orders. See the Family Court's consent orders kit (here) for preliminary parts (names, etc).
In Australia, the care arrangements for a child with separated parents may be documented in:
- a parenting plan (a signed agreement between parents, which is not legally binding but would likely be influential in any future court proceedings)
- consent orders (legally binding Family Court orders which are agreed in advance by the parents)
- parenting orders (interim or final orders made by the Family Court after submissions and hearings).
Essential inclusions in any of the documents are (i) the times a child will spend with each party (including regular time and holidays) – see visitation schedules; and (ii) who will be responsible for major long-term decisions about the child (including the possibility of equal, shared responsibility).
A. Parenting Plan Example (Equal Parenting)
THE PARENTS AGREE THAT:
- Both parents have equal shared parental responsibility for the child, SAM EDWARDS born 18 April 2010.
- Except as otherwise provided by these orders, the times the child will live with the Father each fortnight are (a) from 9am Monday to 9am Wednesday in Week 1; (b) from 9am Friday in Week 1 to 9am Monday in Week 2; and (c) from 9am Wednesday to 9am Friday in Week 2.
- Either parent may suspend the regular arrangements detailed in these Orders on up to four occasions per year for the purposes of holidays with the child, subject to the conditions that (a) no less than two weeks notice, and no more than 6 months, is given to the other parent; (b) the blocks of time are to be no closer together than 2 months; (c) the blocks of time do not to include Christmas or 'special days'; and (d) the blocks do not exceed 10 nights in length for holidays during the Australian summer and 6 nights for holidays at other times.
- For any changeover occurring outside of school hours, unless otherwise agreed, the parent with the child will transport the child to the other parent's residence.
Notes on the parenting plan sample
1 - "Equal, shared parental responsibility" means the parents agree to consult and decide together on major long-term issues such as which school the child will attend (see ag.gov.au).
2 - The parents are agreeing to an equal-time care arrangement (7 nights care each per fortnight).
3 - The sample parenting plan includes an allowance for a week's holiday with each parent between school terms and longer holidays over the summer break.
4 - Each parent agrees to drop off the child to the other parent at changeovers. This is the most empowering and least stressful arrangement for children because they go to their parent's place when ready instead of waiting to be collected.
B. Consent Orders Example (Mixed Responsibilities)
BY CONSENT IT IS ORDERED:
- The Father shall have sole parental responsibility concerning the child’s education but, in other respects, each parent shall retain parental responsibility for the children, SAM EDWARDS born 18 April 2010 and RACHEL EDWARDS born 28 March 2011.
- The parents shall take appropriate measures to ensure that the children, when not living with the Mother, live with the Father as follows: in Week 1, from 9am on Sunday to 3pm on Monday and from 3pm on Wednesday to 9am on Friday; in Week 2, from 3pm on Tuesday to 3pm on Thursday.
- During school holidays, normal arrangements will be suspended and the children shall live with (a) the Mother from 3pm Friday on the last week of term until 9am Saturday of the following week and (b) with the Father from 9am Saturday until 9am Sunday of the subsequent week.
- Despite other orders made here, unless the parents agree otherwise, the children shall spend time with each parent as follows: (a) with the Mother on Mother’s Day and with the father on Father’s Day each year from 6pm on the Saturday before Mother’s Day or Father’s Day until before school on the Monday (or 9am if not a school day).
- Unless the parents agree otherwise (a) in each odd-numbered year, the children shall spend time with the Father from 5.30pm on 24 December until 2.30pm on 25 December and with the Mother from 2.30pm on 25 December until 5.30pm on 26 December, and (b) in each even-numbered year, the children shall spend time with the Mother from 5.30pm on 24 December until 2.30pm on 25 December and with the Father from 2.30pm on 25 December until 5.30pm on 26 December.
Notes on the consent orders sample
1 - The parents agree that Dad will make major education decisions but both parents will decide on any other major issues which arise.
2 - Care will be split 9:5 (9 nights with Mum and 5 nights with Dad each fortnight).
3 - The example consent orders provide for the children to have a week with each parent between school terms.
4 - For the "special days" of Mothers Day and Fathers Day, the children will spend the full day with Mum or Dad respectively.
5 - For Christmas, the children see both parents (with alternating time arrangements each year).
C. Parenting Orders Example (Mother Decides)
THE COURT ORDERS THAT:
- The Mother shall have sole parental responsibility for the major long-term issues for the children, SAM EDWARDS born 18 April 2010 and RACHEL EDWARDS born 28 March 2011. Such issues include but are not limited to the children's (a) education; (b) religious and cultural upbringing; and (c) health management.
- Each parent shall have individual responsibility for daily decisions about care and development of the children while the children are in the care of that parent.
- From 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2019, except as otherwise provided by these orders, the times the child will spend time with the Father each fortnight are (a) from 3.30pm-6pm Monday in Week 1; (b) from 9am-5pm Saturday in Week 1; and (c) from 3.30pm Wednesday to 8am Thursday in Week 2.
- From 1 April 2019, except as otherwise provided by these orders, the times the child will spend time with the Father each fortnight are (a) from 3.30pm Monday to 8am Tuesday in Week 1; (b) from 9am-5pm Saturday in Week 1; and (c) from 3.30pm Wednesday to 8am Thursday in Week 2.
- The Mother will deliver the children to the Father's residence for the start of each period when the children spend time with the Father, and the Father shall return the children to the Mother's residence at the conclusion of each such period.
- The Mother will be able to spend four weeks holiday a year with the children, with no more than a two-week block period at one time, and the Mother will provide the Father with one month’s notice of the holiday period she wants to have with the children.
- The Father will be able to spend 14 days holiday a year with the children, with no more than a 5-day block period at one time, and the Father will provide the Mother with one month’s notice of the holiday period he wants to have with the children.
- Each parent will not denigrate the other parent in the presence or vicinity of the children.
Notes on the parenting orders sample
1 - The Family Court has assigned full decision-making powers to Mum with respect to major long-term decisions.
2 - Dad can still make his own decisions concerning how he cares for the children on a daily basis.
3 - The court has given Dad only limited time with the children, consisting of 3 visits (including 1 overnight stay) per fortnight.
4 - Visitation times are graduated (increasing time with Dad as the children get older). After 2 years, the parenting orders example includes 2 overnight stays per fortnight.
5 - The draft orders require the parent with the children to transport them to the other parent at changeovers.
6 - Outside of normal care arrangements, Mum can keep the children for 4 weeks of holidays over the year.
7 - Dad can also have the children for extra blocks of time occasionally.
8 - The court has included an order that the parents not criticise each other in front of the children, presumably because it was an issue raised in court proceedings. Detailed behavioural orders can be made on many matters, including communication protocols, substance abuse, suitable activities for the children, and who can look after them.