Who gets the kids these school holidays?

Article 17 April 2018

Who gets the kids these school holidays?

With Easter and the school holidays just around the corner, it can be a difficult time for separated families who have to juggle how much time the children will spend with each parent over a holiday period.

Planning Ahead to Reduce Uncertainty

Many separated couples find it easier to  'pre-plan' their parenting arrangements and have something documented or agreed upon formally - so that they don't have to re-negotiate with their former partner every time there is a school holiday, birthday or special occasion.  

There are two options for families in this situation: 
 
1. Parenting Orders

Parenting Orders set-out the arrangements for where children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, and where they will spend holidays and celebrations such Christmas.  They may even stipulate where 'changeovers' between parents should take place and at what time of the day.

Orders are generally based on an agreement made between the parents, usually with the help of their lawyers, which is then formalised into Court Orders.    They are particularly useful if parents have difficulty communicating with each other on a regular basis, or if there is a concern that one parent (or both) might not stick to a more informal agreement.

With Parenting Orders, both parents must abide by the arrangements because they are enforceable by the Court.  If a parent contravenes or breaches the Orders, the Court can impose heavy penalties.  

2. Parenting Plans

Parenting Plans are voluntary written agreements made between the parents, with the help of their lawyers, and then signed and dated.   They are more flexible than Parenting Orders because if the Plans require any changes down the track, a new agreement can be negotiated and then signed and dated.  

The important difference however is that Parenting Plans are not enforceable by a Court.  If a parent doesn't abide by the plans, you have to resolve the problem yourselves.  If an agreement can't be reached that way, your only options are to try and resolve the problem through family dispute resolution or by launching Court proceedings to get an enforceable Parenting Order.  

What is best for your family?

Generally speaking every family is different and the type of arrangements you need will depend on your individual circumstances.  The main aim should always be to provide certainty and stability for the children wherever possible.  

For more advice on parenting arrangements, or to discuss the most suitable option in your case, contact one of our experienced CDQ family lawyers on tel: 02 8566 2400.

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