When a couple separates, it can be a difficult time – especially when children are involved.
Should you and your partner decide to separate, and you have dependent children together, the family law system encourages both parents to work out amicable arrangements for the children, either through a Parenting Plan or a Parenting Order.
What is a parenting plan?
A Parenting Plan is a written document which sets out the agreed arrangements that have been put into place for your children. This doesn’t require having to go to Court.
What is a parenting order?
A Parenting Order is a list of legally enforceable instructions made by a Court concerning the parenting arrangements of a child involved in a separation or divorce. Either this Parenting Order is based on an agreement between the parties and legally recognised (known as consent orders) or after a Court hearing or trial.
What types of clauses should a parenting plan or parenting order include?
No relationship is the same.
Because of this, there is no official set template or parenting clause checklist. So, while there are many different clauses that can be included in parenting orders or parenting plans for the ongoing care arrangements for children, the most common include:
- Parental responsibility for the children
– who makes what decisions for the children
- The living arrangements for the children during the school term
– including where they stay and how they get to and from school
- The living arrangements for the children during school holidays
– this may detail out a roster for certain vacation periods or school breaks
- The arrangements for special days including birthdays, Easter, Christmas
– special conditions or agreements may be applied for certain events
- Changeover locations and times
– including perhaps a calendar of pick up and drop off times for children
- Access to information about the children including educational and medical information
– which can mean sharing the details of each child
- Telephone and video communications between the children and each parent
– it’s often important to set boundaries around who can connect with each child at certain times
- Restrictions on the children relocating outside a certain distance
– stipulating where a child can live so as to not separate too far from each parent
- Non-denigration clauses that prevent denigration of parents and extended family members
– this involves being firm about unfairly criticising or insulting the other partner or their family members in front of the children
- Interstate and overseas travel arrangements including obtaining and maintaining passports for the children.
– being clear about what travel is allowed and what is required for this process
Having these set of clauses means that both parents understand what rules and responsibilities each have for the children involved in a separation.
In general, these clauses should be realistic, practical and in the best interests of the children.
Not every Parenting Arrangement will include the same clauses and this list is not exhaustive. It’s recommended to consider what parenting separation clauses you need to include to suit your specific circumstances – if you’re unsure, then you may wish to consider legal advice.
If in doubt, seek legal advice about making agreements for the arrangements for children.