What is the difference between a parenting plan and an order of the Court?

A parenting plan is a written agreement with the other parent. It sets rules for things such as how much time the children will spend with each parent. These plans are great for those separated parents who remain amicable and can communicate effectively about parenting arrangements.

What you need to keep in mind though that a parenting plan is not legally binding. Therefore, if the relationship between separated parents breaks down, then either parent cannot enforce the terms of the agreement.
In contrast, an order of the court in relation to parenting arrangements is legally binding and enforceable. The order creates legal obligations to do everything the parenting order says. There are serious consequences for failing to comply with the parenting order without a reasonable excuse. Some of these include:
  • Require you to enter into a bond
  • Require you to participate in community service
  • Order you to pay a fine
  • Order you to a sentence of imprisonment

My advice is that you always err on the side of caution and if you have entered into a parenting plan, have that agreement converted into a consent order which is sealed by the court and therefore legally enforceable.

For more information, please contact Katrina Peters.