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Parenting Agreement
22 May 2024

Kinship Concord: The Whole-Spectrum Parenting Agreement for Integrity and Collaboration

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 22 May 2024
parenting agreement

Suppose you are separating or getting divorced, and you have children. In that case, you and the child’s other parent must agree on parenting arrangements. To ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the child’s best interests are being considered, making a formal parenting agreement is recommended rather than allowing the court to decide for you.

A parenting plan must include any concerns that could impact your kids in the short and long term. It may consist of an oral or written agreement or court-issued consent orders, or it could be something else entirely, based on how you and another parent feel. Communicating with family lawyers could be beneficial if you need clarification about what to include in a parenting schedule and plan.

What is a Parenting Agreement?

Emphasising the demands and best interests of the child, it’s usually best for all parties if parents can reach a mutually agreeable decision. Parental agreements may be:

  1. An oral agreement,
  2. A documented parenting plan, or
  3. Consent orders are formal court orders that specify an agreement. To get consent orders, you must apply with the court.

Parenting Plans

An informal document that specifies the agreed-upon parenting schedule for children has the name of a parenting plan. It is also not legally binding and has not been filed in court. This is the kind of document that works best for parents who may agree on parenting issues or for quick situations like:

  • Until you can reach a final agreement, beginning with the date of the separation;
  • When the kids are small enough for you and your ex-partner to decide what’s best for them.

Crucially, a parenting plan can be simple or complex. Parenting plans are not subject to stringent demands other than being signed and dated by both parties. The Family Law Act’s Section 63C(2) sets out some topics that a parenting plan may include:

  • The allocation of parental duty
  • whom the kids are staying with
  • The individuals that the child or children will have contact with 
  • The individuals that the child or children will communicate with
  • The care and maintenance of the child or children
  • The process for settling conflicts
  • The process for editing the parenting plan to take changing circumstances into consideration
  • Aspects related to growth and development, welfare, care, or any other parental obligations

Parenting plans are not legally binding and must not be formed by lawyers. However, it’s still suggested that you speak with a lawyer before making one. The court’s decision-making concerning parenting orders must consider the child’s best interests and the most current parenting plan. If there are court hearings, your parenting plan could subsequently become implemented.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Parenting Orders

The court may issue a parenting order in one of two ways:

  1. By consent, in which case the parenting plans receive approval by the parents; these orders frequently get referred to as Consent Orders or
  2. By the court, a parent applies, and a hearing occurs.

Consent Orders

The court issues a parenting consent order. It sets out the simultaneously agreed-upon, legally enforceable parenting schedule for your kids. When both parents reach accordance, a parenting consent order arises rather than the court hearing your case and deciding your choice.

If the judge finds that the agreement is in the child’s best interests, they will make it enforceable. Parenting plans are not legally binding, but consent orders are; however, a parenting plan signed after a consent order may take preference.

Court-Issued Parenting Orders

Alternatively, the court may create parenting orders. After a hearing, if you and your ex-partner cannot cooperate to reach a parenting agreement. This applies to cases where an honest attempt has been made to use a dispute resolution skill to settle the disagreement. To ensure a sincere effort has been generated, you’ll need a certificate from your dispute resolution professional. This legal requirement gets ignored in situations involving abuse or domestic violence. Parenting plans are legally binding, and you may face consequences from the court if you don’t follow them. 

Things to Consider When Creating a Parenting Arrangement

Parents should consider what is best for their child when creating a parenting agreement. Parenting agreements need to be updated as children grow and their demands evolve.

When reaching a decision, parents ought to consider several variables, such as:

  • Who the kid must spend time and live with
  • Who should make essential decisions that last for the child, and how should consultations occur if parents must confer with one another?
  • Relationships between the child and other substantial people
  • Measures to be taken if the agreement no longer accurately reflects the parties or the child’s changing demands before filing a court application
  • the procedure to have followed to settle disputes, and
  • Any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child, which includes the upbringing, welfare, and future growth of the child.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

What Occurs If I am Looking for Something That is Legally Enforceable?

A consent order is acceptable if you need a legally binding agreement. These parenting plans are equivalent in that both sides must agree to them. However, the main distinctions are that the Family Law Courts make them, that they are legally binding, and that there are penalties for any violation by one of the parties.

Typically, a lawyer drafts a consent order before both parties sign it and present it to the court. After the court gives its permission, the order becomes legally binding. The court will consider whether it thinks the consent order is in the child’s best interests when choosing whether to accept it or not.

Even though submitting an Application for Consent Order with the court does not require you to go through the family dispute resolution procedure, you should still take into account the possible emotional toll that going to court may have on you and your child, as well as the related expenses of the essential representation by an attorney.

To avoid going to court, which can be a prolonged, expensive, and mentally exhausting solution, try setting up a parenting plan. We at Family Lawyers Mackay can assist you in creating a parenting plan suitable for your particular situation. Contact us to find out more about our services.

  1. What may parenting arrangements cover?
  2. Where the kids reside
  3. With whom the kids interact and converse
  4. Childcare or education
  5. Health issues
  6. Customs from a religious or cultural perspective
  7. Assistance in money for the kids
  8. Parental accountability for the plans
  9. How will those in charge of bringing children speak with each other?

What Is Required to Create a Parenting Plan?

You ought to consult a lawyer before creating a parenting plan. Every family context is unique, and you can receive advice on your particular situation from a skilled family lawyer.

To be enforceable, a parenting plan must be signed and dated by both parents, and each parent must keep a copy. Importantly, neither party may sign a parenting plan if they are afraid or coerced by the other.

Parenting plans may prove created by anyone, like grandparents or stepparents, even though they usually come from two recently divorced parents.

Is Mediation a Prerequisite for Parents?

Parents must attend mediation before court if they cannot agree on child care. To request a mediation exemption, you must demonstrate that mediation is unsuitable for your situation. This may apply in cases involving safety concerns between the parties or when the matter is of urgent necessity.

You may apply for Parenting Orders in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court if you attended mediation and it was unsuccessful or if you have grounds to request an exemption from mediation. You and the other parent must submit supporting documentation with your application and their response. After that, the court will issue Parenting Orders based on what it deems to be in the children’s best interests.

Generally, it works best when parents can make decisions and manage their children’s care. If you cannot settle, you should start legal proceedings to obtain Parenting Orders.


Co-parents navigating a separation or divorce in Australia may find parenting agreements, plans, and orders helpful.

The details of your case will determine which of these parenting plan options is most appropriate for you. Whether you choose a parenting plan, parenting consent order, or parenting order, the outcome will depend on how well you and your ex-partner can co-parent and come to crucial long-term parenting decisions. Cases of abuse or violence in the family will also impact the viability of various parenting strategies.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.


What Elements Should be Included in a Parental Agreement?

A parenting agreement should specify living arrangements, visitation schedules, decision-making responsibilities, financial obligations, communication guidelines, and dispute resolution procedures.

Can a Parenting Agreement be Modified?

Yes, you can modify a parenting agreement to accommodate changes in circumstances, such as shifts in work schedules, relocation, or the changing needs of the children.

Is a Parental Agreement Legally Binding?

A parenting agreement can become legally binding if it is formalised in court. This provides legal support for enforcing the terms if one parent fails to comply.

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