Agree on a parenting plan

If you and your ex-partner agree on how to care for your children, you don’t need to do anything through the court.

However, you might find it useful to write your arrangements down as a private agreement so you both clearly understand what you've agreed. This private agreement is also called a parenting plan.

A parenting plan sets out what you’ve agreed on

A parenting plan will help you work through and record decisions like:

  • day-to-day care of your children (custody) – you might want to agree to share day-to-day care equally, or one of you may do most or all of the day-to-day care
  • arrangements for contact (access) – if you or your ex-partner has the children most of the time, the parenting plan records how the other parent is going to spend time with them, including for birthdays, other special days, Christmas and holidays
  • other parenting issues – such as what school the children will go to, as well as their after-school activities, religion, religious holidays, cultural identity, medical treatment, and changes to their name.

Making a parenting plan

You can get help with your parenting plan through:

the Making a parenting plan workbook

a free Parenting Through Separation course

Getting a Consent Order

If you both want to, you can get the Family Court to make your private agreement or parenting plan into a Consent Order. This means that if one person breaks the agreement, you can get the court to enforce it. The court does not make any decisions for you when making a Consent Order. It is using the agreement you've already made and making it enforceable by the court.

You don’t need help from a lawyer to get a Consent Order, but you do need to pay court costs. You must complete the Parenting Through Separation course before applying for the Order, unless you can provide the court with a sufficient reason why you don't want to attend.