23 Sep Keeping parenting disputes simple and out of court
Whether you cannot agree on schooling, who has care when or your child’s name, these are all disputes which can and are very often resolved without a visit to Court. If you can see a parenting dispute on the horizon, a good starting point is to sit down and work on a parenting plan. You can write a plan yourself or ask a lawyer to help you.
You can make your parenting plan into a court order by consent, but this is not compulsory. There is no perfect template for a parenting plan. One parent may do shift work; a child may have learning or health needs to consider. A good plan reflects how things work for your family, not anyone else’s family.
Your parenting plan will set out things you and your ex-partner agree on. For example:
- When, where and how you see the children during school term v school holidays
- The primary carer parent is described as having “day-to-day care”. This was previously called custody.
- The parent with less time with the children has “contact”. This was previously called access.
- Some parents prefer to say when they “have care” rather than deciding who is the primary carer.
- It is okay not to use these terms.
- How the children spend special occasions e.g. birthdays, Christmas etc.
- Plans for emergencies
- Other people who have an important role in the children’s lives e.g. grandparents.
A written agreement sets expectations, for you, your ex-partner, and your children. Certainty and stability are legally recognised as being in the best interests of children. A parenting plan can also save you having the same conversation twice as it provides a reference point for future discussions.
Children and life circumstances change as will your parenting plan. You may want to trial your plan before committing long-term and/or to set a regular time to review it.
If you reach a stalemate on any issue, you should seek legal advice immediately. Taking the wrong approach can set you back in later legal issues regarding children.
Going to see a family lawyer does not mean that you must go to Court. The Family Court is a last resort due to the cost, time, and stress for all involved. Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation are encouraged.
At RMY Legal, we can help you along this process. Whether you need help to start a parenting plan or if you already have one and want a few tips, give our experienced family team a call: Rachel Standring or Bayley Roylance.