Informal Parenting Arrangements
There is no Court involved here. It is the parties, usually amicably, informally discussing the parenting arrangements. It is often not documented and so it is difficult to monitor and impossible to enforce. For example, if one party enters a new relationship, circumstances may change. If there is a dispute, you have no legally binding document and so it might become a contested Court case.
Parenting plans are also informal arrangements between the parties. Even though they might be in writing, they are not made by the court. If there is a dispute, you do not have a legally binding document to rely on.
If you are concerned that your circumstances might change in the future, because you might have young children, then parenting plans are often used in this situation. You can make a parenting plan at any stage after separation.
An agreement between the parties can be formalised by the Court for Consent Orders. You may have reached a long-term agreement with your spouse and want certainty for the future.
Since these are Court Orders, they are legally binding and enforceable (until your children are 18 years old) so if there is a breach of the Orders by your spouse/partner, you can apply to the court for assistance (contravention application) if the other party does not comply. The Court can do any of the following:
- Modify the parenting order;
- Order the offending party to:
- Pay a fine;
- Enter into a bond;
- Serve a prison sentence and/or
- Pay the legal costs of the other party.