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Family Law Parenting Agreement
A parenting plan is a documented agreement that outlines the arrangements for the care and upbringing of a child or children.

Parenting agreement

In New South Wales (NSW), Parenting agreement refers to a legally binding document that outlines the arrangements for the care, welfare, and development of children when their parents separate or divorce. It is also commonly known as a parenting plan or a parenting order.

Under NSW family law, parents are encouraged to reach an agreement regarding the care of their children without the need for court intervention. A parenting agreement allows parents to determine the specifics of parenting arrangements, including:

  1. Custody and living arrangements: This involves deciding where the child will live and how much time they will spend with each parent. It may include details about weekdays, weekends, school holidays, and special occasions.

  2. Parental responsibility: Parental responsibility refers to the authority and decision-making responsibilities that parents have for their child. A parenting agreement may outline how parents will share decision-making on important matters such as education, health, and religious upbringing.

  3. Communication and contact: The agreement may include provisions for communication between the child and each parent, including phone calls, video chats, emails, or other forms of contact.

  4. Dispute resolution: Parents can include a process for resolving any future disputes that may arise regarding the parenting arrangements. This may involve seeking mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods before resorting to court action.

  5. Financial support: While a parenting agreement primarily focuses on parenting arrangements, it may also address financial matters such as child support payments and other financial contributions for the child’s well-being.

It’s important to note that a parenting agreement can be made by mutual consent between the parents, but it does not have the same legal weight as a parenting order made by a court. However, if both parents adhere to the agreement and it is working effectively, it can be a practical and suitable arrangement for their family.

If parents are unable to reach an agreement, they may need to seek legal advice and consider other options, such as family mediation or applying to the court for a parenting order. It’s recommended to consult with a family lawyer or seek guidance from relevant family law services in NSW for specific advice tailored to your situation

Creating an effective plan

When faced with the challenge of co-parenting after separating from your partner, it is crucial to establish a well-crafted parenting plan that prioritizes the best interests of your children. By reaching a mutual agreement, you can strive to maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives. Several factors should be taken into account when creating an effective parenting plan. It is essential to consider the welfare of your children as the paramount concern and ensure that the terms and conditions outlined in the plan consistently promote their well-being. The following steps outline how you can achieve this goal.

To create an effective parenting plan, several factors need to be considered:

  1. Custody and Visitation Rights:
  • Establish a regular schedule for the child’s living arrangements and visitation with the non-custodial parent.
  • Plan for holidays, vacations, and special occasions.
  • Address emergencies and outline who the child is allowed to visit or be visited by.
  • Define procedures for exchanging the child between parents.
  1. Activity Planning:
  • Discuss and agree on the child’s extracurricular activities and enrichment opportunities.
  • Determine which parent will attend specific events or alternate attendance.
  • Establish communication guidelines and routines for coordinating activities.
  1. Finances:
  • Discuss and agree upon child support arrangements.
  • Decide on financial support for adult children and daily expenses.
  • Plan for handling large expenses and consider the sharing of property.
  1. Important Decisions:
  • Address lifestyle choices, household rules, religion, cultural heritage, schooling plans, and medical needs.
  1. Putting Everything Into Writing:
  • Consider court involvement if necessary.
  • Ensure all details are documented in writing, including transcriptions of discussions if possible.
  • Sign the agreement as a demonstration of mutual agreement.
  • Prepare for future amendments as children grow and circumstances change.

In general, child custody arrangements are often organized based on the age of the child, following these five tiers. There is no strict rule for determining how child custody arrangements should be based on age, but the following is a general guideline:

For children aged 0-1: It is recommended that the child spends frequent but short periods of time (2 or 3 times per week) with the non-primary carer, lasting 1 to 3 hours each time.

For children aged 1-2: The child can gradually spend longer periods of time with the non-primary carer, ranging from 2 to 6 hours.

For children aged 2-3: The child may begin to have overnight stays once a week with the non-primary carer.

For children aged 3-4: The child may increase their overnight stays to 2-3 nights in a row with the non-primary carer.

For children aged 5 and older: The child may start having 4-7 consecutive nights with the non-primary carer.

Please note that these guidelines can vary and are not fixed rules for child custody arrangements by age.

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