Family Lawyers in Sydney Explain the Difference between Parenting Plans and Consent Orders


One of the most difficult parts of getting a divorce (besides deciding to have one, of course) is the part where you decide who the children will live or stay with and how much time they would spend with each parent.

This problem (living arrangements for your children) is common among couples experiencing divorce, although it can be emotionally tiring and troublesome. It can be avoided, or at least minimize to a certain point if both parties set up an agreement rather than let the family court Judge decides for both of you.

By knowing that the decisions both parents make would be for the best interest of your kid/s and your family, the agreement made would also save both parents time and money going to family court.

For this agreement to materialize it should be documented. Two ways that this can happen:

1. Consent Orders
2. Parenting Plans

Consent Orders - is a document that must be signed and agreed upon by both parties. It must also have the same information about who the kids will be with, time spent with each party and how important decisions would be made for the kids. It is much like a Parenting Plan but the main difference is that the court must approve the Consent Orders, whereby they become a legal document and can be enforced by the family court. With that being said, it is more difficult to change or edit a Consent Order and should only be done where there is a significant need for a change which varies case to case.

Consent Oders are particularly useful when both parties are no longer on speaking terms and feel that he or she does not trust the other party to respect the terms in the Parenting Plan. Where parties are not on good terms or struggle to co-parent, then Consent Order are ideal because they offer a sense of permanency and enforceability as they are legally binding orders and they can be relied upon with certainty.

Parenting Plans - is also a document that allows parents to map out arrangements for their kids living and parental conditions. It should be signed by both parties with provisions on where the kids will live and for how long, time spent with each parent and other decisions that would affect them in the future.

You should know that a Parenting Plan is not legally binding and that this document can be revised, and a new one can replace the current one, provided, of course, that both parties agree.

Though this Parenting Plan cannot be used as a legal document, should both parties end up in court, a parenting plan may be considered as evidence to show the past intentions of the parties and their parenting arrangements. When drafting a Parenting Plan it is advisable that the parties seek individual family legal advice. 

When picking between a Parenting Plan and a Consent Order, you should keep in mind the best interest of your children. It is best for both parties to have their own guidelines and policies rather than let a Judge decide for you.

Should you have any questions regarding this, or you would like to understand it more, please contact My Legal Crunch on 1800 572 122 or at

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