The arrangements that you make for your children after you separate are called parenting arrangements. As children grow and their needs change, parents may have to update their parenting arrangements.
amica can help you to make parenting arrangements for children under the age of 18 who are children of the relationship. This includes biological children (including children conceived with the assistance of IVF) and adopted children.
These arrangements need to be made in the best interests of the child (not the parents).
Best interests of the child
When working out what parenting arrangements are in a child's best interests it is important to consider:
- the safety of the child
- the child's age
- who is best placed to provide day-to-day care for the child
- any special needs e.g. medical and schooling
- practical considerations e.g. housing, transport, unexpected expenses
- the cultural needs of the child, especially where the child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- the child's own views
- international travel and passports – for example the child may need to travel internationally for school, sporting activities or hobbies, or family events
Different kinds of parenting arrangements
There are different ways to document the parenting arrangements for your family. The way that you make, and record, your parenting arrangements will depend on what suits your situation.
Parenting arrangements made between parents
- Parenting agreements: This is when parents agree on parenting arrangements between themselves. It might be in writing, but it is not always. amica can help you to record your parenting agreement in writing if this is what you would like.
- Parenting plans: If parents sign and date their parenting agreement, then it is known as a parenting plan. amica enables you to add your signatures electronically if you want to convert your parenting agreement to a parenting plan.
What is the difference between a parenting agreement and a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is more formal than a parenting agreement, they hold more weight. For example, if the matter eventually goes to court, the court must consider the terms of the latest parenting plan when making parenting orders.
Types of orders made by family courts
- Consent orders: Where parents have agreed between themselves on the arrangements for their children, but they also want the agreement to be binding and formalised into court orders. It is not necessary to do this unless you want the agreement to be enforced by a court. The court must be satisfied that the orders will be in the best interests of the child. If you want to make changes you usually have to go back to court.
- Parenting orders: If parents can't reach agreement, they might need a court to decide the parenting arrangements. When the court decides the arrangements, this is called parenting orders. It is usually better for everyone if the parents can reach a parenting agreement without getting a court to decide.
Information and Support for Children
Children may also look for information about what will happen to them when their parents separate. It may help children to be provided with age-appropriate information and support . There are also services available to help children and young people who need support after their parents separate at the Family Relationships website.
Summary of the different kinds of parenting arrangements and how amica can help
|Who makes this?||Things to consider||Can amica provide this?|
|Parenting Agreement||Parents agree between themselves.||Flexibility: Can be varied by agreement between parents.||Yes|
|Parenting Plan||Parents agree between themselves.||Flexibility: Can be varied by agreement between parents.
Weight: If matter goes to Court later, the Court must consider the terms of the latest parenting plan.
|Consent Orders||Parents agree on the arrangements, and ask the family courts to turn the agreement into an order.||Consent Orders are binding. Making changes often involves going back to Court.||amica does not produce consent orders for parenting, but you can use amica to make an agreement as a first step.|
|Parenting Orders||If parents can’t decide the arrangements, the family courts can decide them.||Parenting Orders are binding. Making changes nearly always involves going back to Court.||amica does not produce parenting orders, but you can use amica to gather essential information from each other as a first step.|