Enforcing parenting plans is very different to Court Orders. Whilst a Court can fine or impose other penalties for a parent who breaches orders made by the court, this is not so for parenting plans.
Generally, both parents are responsible for the children’s well-being even following separation. Many couples come to agreement on a parenting plan after separation dealing with parenting arrangements into the future. Relationships Australia offers mediation and dispute resolution to assist separation parents. A parenting plan is a document detailing what agreement parents have come to. It is not lodged with the court and is therefore not legally binding and cannot be enforced. It should be noted though, that before signing any parenting agreement, advice should be sought from a specialist family law, and parenting plans are often persuasive in future parenting proceedings.
To enforce agreements that are reached, consent orders will need to be entered into between both parties. We can prepare the relevant Application to the Court and draft your parenting plan into legally binding and enforceable orders. Once orders are in place, enforcement is possible through a variety of means, including by ordering make up time, fines, or at the extreme, jail time for a non-compliant parent. Orders can also be changed if there is a pattern of noncompliance.
Author: Gabriella Arvanitis, Senior Associate – Family Law
Service: Family Law