There are many terms that are widely used during family law matters. One such term is a parenting plan. What is a parenting plan? Separated or divorced parents can make arrangements among themselves that outline the kinds of responsibilities each parent will have towards the child. Moreover, in this arrangement they can highlight points about visitation and custody schedules.
These informal arrangements that parents make amongst themselves are parenting plans. They can choose to make these plans either verbally or through written agreements. Lawyers always recommend parties to convert these parenting plans into consent orders.
This is because, consent orders are legally binding court orders. So, while a party can get away for not complying with terms of a parenting plan, they can be held for contempt of court if they fail to comply with consent orders.
In this article, we are going to answer the question of ‘what is a parenting plan’ by exploring some key Sections of the Family Law Act (1975). We are going to discuss four Sections under Division 4 of Part VII of the Act. Division 4 is related to Parenting Plans, whereas Part VII of the Act highlights all Sections that are relevant for children’s matters within family law.
What Is a Parenting Plan: Registered Parenting Plans
Parents may choose to register their parenting plans. A registered parenting plan only includes the parents, and no other adults, as having parental responsibility for the child. On the other hand, other parenting plans can include others who are concerned about the care and development of the child such as relatives and grandparents.
A party can register a parenting plan with the Family Law Court prior to the year 2004. Once they have registered a parenting plan, they can only change it on application to the Court.
Section 63E: Revocation of a Registered Parenting Plan
This Section states that to make an application for registration of a revocation agreement to revoke a registered parenting plan, the parties must:
- lodge an application for the revocation of registered agreement in accordance with the applicable Rules of Court, and
- accompany the application with a copy of the revocation agreement, information that Rules of Court require, and a statement indicating that the party has obtained independent legal advice. The practitioner who provided the parties with advice must also sign statement.
When obtaining independent legal advice, the parties have to ensure that they understand the effect and meaning of the revocation agreement. Furthermore, the court may register the revocation agreement if it feels it is in the best interests of the child.
In determining whether it is appropriate to register the revocation agreement, the court:
- must consider the information that accompanies the application for registration, and
- may consider the matters set out in Subsections 60CC (2) and (3)
Section 63F: Child Welfare Provisions of Registered Parenting Plans
What is a parenting plan related to child welfare provisions? Section 63F is related to registered parenting plans that contain child welfare provisions. It states that the Court can vary the child welfare provisions in the plan if it thinks that would be in the best interests of the child.
Furthermore, the Section states that in some situations the child welfare provisions have effect as if they were provisions of a parenting order.
Section 63G: Child Maintenance Provisions of Registered Parenting Plans
What is a parenting plan related to child maintenance provisions? Child maintenance is a type of financial payment that separated/divorced parents make to provide for their adult child. Children under 18 require child support payments.
If they require financial support after they have turned 18, they can be eligible to obtain child maintenance or adult child maintenance payments. Adult children may require these payments if they are still in school. Moreover, they may require the payment if some disability is preventing them from obtaining employment.
Section 63G is applicable if there are registered parenting plans that contain child maintenance provisions, and the plan is not a maintenance agreement. The Section is also applicable if the plan is a maintenance agreement but the child concerned is not the child of the relevant marriage.
Furthermore, in some situations, these child maintenance provisions in the plan will have effect as if they were child maintenance orders made by the court.
Section 63H: Court’s Powers in Relation to Registered Parenting Plans
When reading up on ‘what is a parenting plan’ in the context of the Family Law Act (1975), it is important to understand the Court’s powers in relation to registered parenting plans. This includes the Court’s powers to set aside, discharge, vary, suspend or revive registered parenting plans.
The court in which the parties registered the parenting plans can set aside the plan, and its registration, if the court is satisfied that:
- the parties themselves wish for the plan to be set aside,
- it is in the best interests of the child for the court to set aside the plan,
- one party obtained the agreement of the other party by fraudulent means, or through duress or undue influence
There are other provisions in the Act that may set aside or vary or otherwise affect a parenting plan. This includes the court being able to:
- vary a child welfare provision in the parenting plan under Subsection 63F (2)
- make parenting orders that discharge, vary, suspend or revive provisions of the plan that have effect as if they were a parenting order (other than a child maintenance order)
- discharge, vary or suspend or revive provisions of the plan that have affect as if they were a child maintenance order.
Seeking Advice from Family Lawyers
This blog has discussed the question of ‘what is a parenting plan’ by exploring certain important Sections of the Family Law Act. Family lawyers are experts in the field who can handle any complicated matter with ease.
At JB Solicitors, we have a team of award-winning lawyers who have the experience in providing dispute-resolution services to parties who wish to come to an agreement. Where required, our lawyers can also represent clients in family courts.