The pros and cons of informal and formal parenting arrangements
Scenario: Lisa and her husband Joe have recently separated. Lisa’s lawyer has recommended that she see a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) with her husband to see if they can reach an agreement about future parenting arrangements for their children. A FDRP is an independent person who helps couples discuss issues and work out how best to reach agreement in disputes about children or property.
During the meeting with the FDRP Lisa says that she wants the parties to spend equal time with their two children Ava 4 and Tom 6, by having the children on alternate weeks. Joe agrees to this arrangement. The FDRP recommends that a parenting plan be drawn up by the parties.
Lisa is happy with the flexibility of the parenting plan. She works part time as a nurse, is a shift worker and has been informed that the parenting plan is flexible and that she can work with her husband around the specifics of dates and times with the children.
Lisa is told that a parenting plan is not enforceable and is only a good-faith agreement.
Lisa decides to get some legal advice before signing the parenting plan.
Lisa needs to weigh the benefits of the flexibility of a parenting plan which is not legally enforceable, as opposed to more formal orders with legal consequences if either party fails to comply. Lisa needs to be careful as the content of a parenting plan is not confidential and can be attached to a sworn statement in future court proceedings. Any concessions made in the plan, such as the husband spending equal time with the children, may be used as evidence if she seeks to back-step and reduce time spent with the children, asserting this is contrary to the children’s best interests.
You need to discuss these important issues with your Family Lawyer and seek legal advice before signing a parenting plan. In some families parenting plans are an ideal first step to post-separation parenting, in others Consent Orders are a better option. Consult a Family Law solicitor here at Fox & Staniland to discuss your strategy and find out what is best for you and your situation on 9440 1202.