It is often a priority for separating parents to resolve the future care arrangements of their children. Parenting plans are documents that record the care arrangements of children, which parents will often sign and date. They are useful documents, and for many are enough to allow them to move forward with their lives.
What most people do not realise however is that parenting plans are not legally binding documents.
So what does this mean?
The reality is parties of parenting plans are not bound by law to follow them in the same way that they are obligated to comply with Court Orders.
If a party contravenes a parenting plan, you cannot enforce it in the same way that you could if you had a legally binding arrangement. This is also true for seeking sanctions against the party who breached the parenting plan. Fortunately, you can formalise a parenting plan as a Consent Order.
A Consent Order is a legally binding Court Order in the terms of a parenting plan. To apply for a Consent Order, you must file an Application for Consent Orders form with the Family Court.
It is a straightforward process, so long as both parties agree. Generally, the Court will make the Consent Order without the need to attend a Court hearing.
If a party breaches a Consent Order then the other can file a Contravention Application. This allows the Court to take further action to enforce the Consent Order, vary it or impose penalties.