What is the Difference Between a Parenting Plan and Parenting Order?

In 2019, Australia’s most expensive divorce finally ended with a very hefty settlement and legal fees that amount to over $40 million. Teams of family lawyers were involved in the case which dragged on for 14 years. And with every divorce, there is an issue in child custody. These cases can be very difficult to handle given the circumstances and risks. Children are at the center of this issue and we’ve all seen the intensity and impact of child custody battles over the years. Some high-profile cases involve those of celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, and so on. But even for typical individuals, child custody battles can be grueling, difficult, and most of all devastating especially for the child or children involved.

It is important to get a child custody lawyer in North Sydney if you are in a similar situation. If your relationship has gone awry and children are faced with the reality of a separation or divorce, there are several options that can be taken to make things more bearable for the children. Two common choices on the table include a parenting plan or a parenting order. This is stated in the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006. While they may sound the same, there are stark differences between them.

Parenting Plan

These are arrangements made between the two parties involved without the exigency of a family court. Family lawyers or family counselors can support in forging the agreement and can best work for non-hostile relationships. According to the Attorney-General’s Handbook on Parenting Orders, parenting plans are less formal and less expensive. It just needs to contain matters pertaining to “parental responsibility and arrangements for children”, signed and dated, between the parents of the child or children. Other people like grandparents can also be involved in this plan as well. Overall, a parenting plan is a good first option for child custody cases.

Parenting Order

If the arrangement must be legally enforceable, then it is time to seek a parenting order which may require the support of child custody lawyers. Whereas parenting plans can be agreed upon in a less formal manner, parenting orders are more specific and formal. The same handbook lists down various topics that a parenting order can cover which include living and visiting arrangements, parental responsibility, communication, medical care, and so on. Parenting orders can also be based on existing parenting plans. Overall, parenting orders are done in consultation with family lawyers and are best for parties with strained relationships.


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