couple discussing with lawyer about divorce

Child Custody Issues: All About Parenting Plans

Getting divorced or separated is painful and stressful for everyone, especially if there are kids involved. During this very emotional time, your kids will need love, contact, and support from both their parents. Certainty regarding the future is likewise immensely crucial for all involved, particularly for your kids. For starters, a parenting plan, created by you and your ex-spouse would help clarify essential arrangements for the care of your kids.

Generally speaking, your plan must include shared parental responsibility involving major decisions and time spent with the kids. This would help everybody know what’s expected of them. The plan will likewise be a valuable resource as circumstances change over time.

What’s in a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is essentially a plan that puts your kids’ best interests first, created in good will, and focuses on your shared commitment to your kids with their future in mind, explains a renowned family law solicitor in Townsville. Put simply; it’s a written agreement between you and your ex-spouse that covers practical matters involving parental responsibility. It must include practical details regarding care for your kids including your parenting styles, finances, living arrangements, and religion. Your plan should not, however, cover arrangements for dividing your assets, cash, or property, as these should be discussed with a solicitor that handles property settlements. It’s also vital to note that while your parenting plan isn’t legally enforceable, it could have legal implications.

The Law and Parenting Plans

According to the Family Law Act, a parenting plan could be in any form, provided that it was created free from coercion, duress, or threat. It should be written, dated, and signed by both parents. As stated above, since parenting plans aren’t legally enforceable, considering that you and your ex-spouse agree on everything written in the agreement, you could file your plan with the family court.

divorce agreement contractIf the court approves your parenting plan, it will turn it into an official parenting order, which gives it the same legal weight as parenting orders the court makes following a custody hearing. But if you and your spouse can’t agree on the care of your kids, the family court will have to step in and issue a parenting order. When determining parenting orders, the court will consider your kids’ best interests and whether or not you and ex-spouse have fulfilled your parental obligations to your kids.

When You Have Completed Your Parenting Plan

After completing your parenting plan, dating it, and signing it, you then need to photocopy it and furnish a copy for you and your ex-spouse. Note that all parenting orders created after or on July 1, 2006, could be modified by creating a revised parenting plan, provided that the original parenting order allows it. Your new plan can replace some or all, or even add to the existing parenting order. However, the revisions will only be enforceable if the court approves the changes.

With all this in mind, when planning or creating a parenting plan, it’s best to consult a family solicitor to ensure that you’re aware of all its potential legal effects and obtain the best possible results for you, and more importantly, your kids.