Parenting Plan vs Parenting Order: What you need to know

Parenting Plan OR Parenting Order: What’s the best option? - Resolve Conflict Family LawyersDivorce may come with what seems like an insurmountable list of things to consider and decide on, however none so important as how you and your ex-partner will care for your children.

Choosing between a Parenting Plan or going down the path of a Parenting Order will greatly depend on how well you and your ex-partner communicate and get along as a whole. No matter how amicable the relationship and divorce has been it is a sensible idea to formalise any agreement you make about the care of your children.

Parenting Plan

A Parenting Plan is a written, agreed and dated document between separated parents on their children’s care, welfare and development. This is a good option for parents who communicate, work well and trust each other and are seeking flexibility with their arrangements.

Parents are able to make their own decisions of what will be included in the Parenting Plan that suit their circumstances. The aim of the Parenting Plan is to agree on how things that affect the children are going to be organised. This may include living arrangements, day-to-day care, holidays, special occasions, medical care etc. By having an agreed plan between parents can reduce misunderstandings and potential disagreements.


Related Article: What to include in your Parenting Plan



  • A parenting plan can include anything the parents need to agree on about their children
  • The plan can change at any time if agreed by both parents
  • Parents have control over the process
  • It is flexible and easy to execute
  • Creating an agreement out of court saves time, money and stress
  • A parenting plan can be cancelled or changed at any time, by making a new written, dated and signed agreement


  • A Parenting Plan is not legally enforceable, however “parenting plans do have some legal implications.”[1]

It should be noted that it is important to obtain independent family law advice before entering into a Parenting Plan.


Parenting Order

“A parenting order is a set of orders made by a court about parenting arrangements for a child. A court can make a parenting order based on an agreement between the parties (consent orders) or after a court hearing or trial. When a parenting order is made, each person affected by the order must follow it.”[2]

A Parenting Order is similar to a Parenting Plan in that it addresses the child’s care, welfare and development, however is not as flexible or able to include everything a Parenting Plan can.

Due to the structure and legality of a Parenting Order it is a better option for parents where certainty and enforceability are of primary importance.

A Parenting Order is a legal document, and both parents must do everything the parenting order says. “The order remains in force until a new parenting order or parenting plan changes it in some way.”[3] As Parenting Orders are enforceable if either parent breaches the Order a Contravention Order can be filed in the Family Court.

Due to the greater complexity of a Parenting Order it is strongly advised that you seek family legal advice to fully understand how a Parenting Order may or may not be right for your situation.

Note: This is general information advice only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters, please contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email



[1] Parenting Plan Guide, Family Relationships Online, viewed 21 March 2018,

[2] Parenting Orders – obligations, consequences and who can help, Family Court of Australia, viewed 21 March 2018,

[3] Parenting Orders – obligations, consequences and who can help, Family Court of Australia, viewed 21 March 2018,

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