Documenting Parenting Agreement: Parenting Plan or Consent Orders

Should you use a Parenting Plan or Consent Order to document your Parenting Agreement 

If either you already have, or you think you should be able to, reach agreement on the parenting arrangements for your child or children, then there are a couple of options available to you as to what you do about your agreed parenting arrangements.

You can either:

  1. Write up your agreement into signed but informal document which is then considered a Parenting Plan; or
  2. Document your agreement into an Application for Consent Orders so you then have a Parenting Court Order made by the Court; or
  3. Not put anything in writing at all.

If you have decided to document your Parenting Arrangements in either a Parenting Plan or a Consent Order, then you will need to weight up the benefits and advantages as well as any risks or disadvantages associated with each of a Parenting Plan and a Parenting Consent Order.


Some things you should know about Parenting Plans are:

  • Parenting Plans can only be made if both parties (both parents or the parent and legal guardian) are in agreement.
  • there is no requirement for registration of Parenting Plans, nor for independent legal advice.
  • Parenting Plans are no more than simply evidence of what the parents agreed was in the best interests of their child at the time they signed the Parenting Plan.
  • a Parenting Plan might be used to defend to a contravention (breach of an Order) application.
  • a Parenting Plan is completely enforceable, unless the Parenting Plan is to amend a Court Order previously made by the Court.
  • a Parenting Plan can amend a previous Court Order.
  • There is no ‘cooling off’ period for a Parenting Plan.



Some benefits and advantages of a Parenting Consent Order include:

  • Parenting Consent Orders have to be made by a Court. The Court will only make the Consent Orders you have agreed on, if the Court thinks those Orders are in the best interests of the Child or Children.
  • A Parenting Consent Order is made by the agreement of both parties.
  • A Parenting Consent Order has exactly the same force and effect as a Parenting Order made by the Court and forced on the parties without the consent of one or both of them.
  • Consequences can follow if a Consent Order is breached.
  • Parenting Consent Orders are usually easier to enforce.
  • If you need the Federal Police to assist they will need to see a Court Order, they cannot act on a Parenting Plan.
  • You do not have to use lawyers to do Parenting Consent Orders, you can do them yourself.
  • Neither party has to have Independent Legal Advice to do Parenting Consent Orders.
  • You can use Parenting Consent Orders to document your parenting and property settlement agreement in the same document.

More information on Documenting a Parenting Agreement

We also have the following Fact Sheets providing more legal information about documenting your Parenting Agreement:


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