What are Parenting Arrangements?
The fundamental principles that guide parenting arrangements are that:
- Children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents, regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never been married or have never lived together;
- Children have a right to spend time and communicate on a regular basis with both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (such as grandparents and other relatives)
- Parents should jointly share duties and responsibilities and decision-making concerning the care, welfare and development of their children;
- Parents should agree about future care of their children; and
- Children have a right to enjoy their culture (including the right to enjoy that culture with others who share that culture).
A child has the right to know and be cared for by both parents if it is in the child’s best interests.
Best Interests of the Child
In all decisions that are made in relation to the care of children parties, and if necessary the court should be guided by the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child contemplate the right of a child to a meaningful relationship with both parents and the need to protect children from violence, abuse and neglect.
In nearly all cases, parenting proceedings cannot be commenced in a Court unless you first participate in family dispute resolution (FDR). This is the process of mediation to help separating parents discuss proposals for parenting arrangements and practical decisions that they will have to make in the future concerning their children.
If you reach an agreement through Family Dispute Resolution you can either formalise your agreement through Consent Orders made by a Court, or you can have an informal agreement such as a parenting plan (which is not enforceable by a Court if it is breached).