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What Is a Parenting Plan? (A Guide for Your Child’s Best Interest)

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Co-parenting after separation can be difficult, but creating an effective parenting plan is essential for meeting your child’s needs.

This blog offers insights into developing a parenting plan that prioritises your child’s welfare and best interests. It covers essential aspects, such as living arrangements, education, and communication between parents.

Key Insights

  • A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents post-separation. It prioritises children’s best interests.
  • The plan covers living arrangements, education, special occasions, parental responsibility, and communication.
  • Factors to consider include the child’s age, the distance between parents, school activities, safety concerns, and extended family involvement.
  • Parents should reach a consensus on the plan’s details. If not, a family dispute resolution practitioner can help.
  • Parenting plans aren’t legally binding. For enforceability, parents should seek a consent order from the Family Court.
  • Legal advice is crucial when drafting a plan or seeking a consent order to meet the child’s best interests.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents detailing the care arrangements for their children post separation. It outlines parenting arrangements, ensuring children’s best interests are prioritised.

Creating an effective parenting plan for you child

Factors Parenting Plans Typically Cover

Parenting plans address various factors, including:

  • Living Arrangements: Where will the children live? Will they spend equal time with both parents or primarily reside with one parent?
  • Education: Decisions about school choices, holidays, and other educational matters.
  • Special Occasions: How will special days like birthdays or holidays be managed?
  • Parental Responsibility: This refers to major decisions about the child’s welfare. These may include health, education, and religion. Equal shared parental responsibility is common. But sole parental responsibility can be sought in certain circumstances.
  • Communication: How will parents communicate about the child’s needs, education, and other matters?

father taking care of his daughter

If you’re looking for an experienced lawyer for family law matters, contact Ferrall & Co. Lawyers for a free 30-minute consultation.

Determining Important Factors for Your Family

Every family is unique. To decide which factors are crucial for your family’s circumstances, consider the following:

  • The child’s age and needs.
  • The distance between parents’ residences.
  • The child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • Any history of domestic violence or safety concerns.
  • The involvement of grandparents or other significant family members.

The Importance of Developing a Consensus

Parents need to agree on the parenting plan’s details. This consensus ensures smoother transitions for children and reduces potential conflicts. Disagreements may arise. If they do, a family dispute resolution practitioner can assist in reaching an agreement.

parent talking seriouly (1)

Legal Implications of Parenting Plans

While parenting plans provide a clear framework for separated parents, they are not legally binding. Parents should seek a consent order from the Family Court for a legally enforceable agreement. Consent orders have the same legal effect as court orders, ensuring compliance.

If you’re looking for an experienced lawyer for family law matters, contact Ferrall & Co. Lawyers for a free 30-minute consultation.

Parenting Consent Order as a Legally Binding Solution

Parents who want a legally enforceable agreement can apply for a parenting consent order. This court-approved document outlines the parenting arrangements and can enforce them legally. Before applying, it’s crucial to seek legal advice to ensure the consent order reflects the family’s needs and is in the child’s best interest.

male judge lawyer giving verdict

Parenting Plans vs. Parenting Orders

Both documents outline parenting arrangements. Only parenting orders from the family court are legally enforceable. If one parent breaches the agreement, the other can’t enforce it unless it’s a parenting order.

Seek Legal Advice

It’s paramount to consult with legal professionals when drafting a parenting plan or seeking a consent order. They can provide guidance on the law. This ensures the plan or order is comprehensive and serves the child’s best interests. Additionally, they can advise on applying for a parenting order if needed.

If you want to know how to select the appropriate family lawyer for your needs, you can check out this blog.


An effective parenting plan requires collaboration, understanding, and focus on the child’s wellbeing. While these plans offer a structured approach to co-parenting, parents should know their non binding nature. For a legally binding solution, seeking a consent order with legal advice is essential. Remember, the primary goal is to ensure the child’s interests are always at the forefront.

Ferrall and Co. Lawyers have many years of experience working with parents. Our team can assist you in developing an agreement and creating a plan. Contact us today for a free consultation.

The information provided here is general and not meant to replace personalised advice. It doesn’t consider your specific situation, so it shouldn’t be the sole basis for any decisions. We disclaim any loss or damage from relying solely on this information. Always consult a legal or financial professional for advice tailored to your circumstances before making any financial or legal decisions.

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Rowena Ferrall


Rowena Ferrall is the principal lawyer of Ferrall & Co. Lawyers, which was established in 2017. The firm specialises in family law, domestic violence and criminal defence.

Rowena is licensed to practice in Queensland and the High Court of Australia. Her approach combines legal expertise with compassion, ensuring clients receive the right advice and emotional support. She’s an active member of several law associations and supports various charities. Contact Rowena for more information.

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