Parenting Arrangements – What Are My Options?

Navigating the break down of a relationship or a marriage is stressful. But like anything, when you add kids into the mix it can become even more complicated.

You might have heard that there are a few different kinds of parenting arrangements that can be put in place after the breakdown of a relationship. 

You might have had well meaning advice from others who have walked the path before you.  “Get court orders”. Where is your parenting plan? “You will have to go to Court”. You head may be spinning with all the options.

Well in this post Coastal Lawyers, sets out simply what the main types of parenting arrangements are. 

To help you understand the options that you have, we’ve weighed in on some of the individual positives and the drawbacks of each alternative. I mean who doesn’t love a good ‘pro’s and con’s list’.

The 4 types of parenting arrangements are: 

  1. Informal Arrangement;
  2. Parenting Plan;
  3. Consent Orders; and
  4. Final/Court Orders.


Informal Arrangements

Parents are perfectly entitled to come up with their own arrangements for co-parenting their children after separation. There are no requirements for written agreements or orders from the court. These types of arrangements are best for parents who have positive communication skills, positive conflict resolution skills and equal ‘power’ in the relationship. 


  • Cheap;
  • Flexible; and
  • Less confronting than the formal legal process.


  • Requires positive communication and conflict resolution skills which are often lacking between separating parties; and
  • It is not enforceable if the other party breaks the agreement.
  • If one party is not reliable, it can mean the other party is constantly having to make last arrangements. 


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Parenting Plan

A parenting plan (alike an informal arrangement) is another type of private parenting agreement.

It is a little more formal though and must be in writing, signed by both parents and dated as per Section 63C of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).


  • Cost-effective
  • Has more certainty than purely informal arrangements because at least it is written down.


  • Not enforceable by a Court; and
  • Requires collaboration and agreement between separating parties which can be a challenge where communication is not positive. 


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Consent Orders

Consent Orders are an order made by the Court formalising the agreed terms of a parenting plan.


  • Court enforceable; and
  • The certainty of compliance or recourse if the other parent breaches (breaks) the arrangements. 


  • Inflexibility;
  • Court involvement; and
  • Requires collaboration and agreement between separating parties which can be a challenge sometimes depending on the dynamic of the relationship. 


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Final Court Orders

In situations where there is no agreement between parents, Court Orders may be required. This is where the Court will make a decision upon parenting arrangements based on a number of considerations, including its paramount concern, which is in the best interests of the child or children involved.


  • Court enforceable;
  • The certainty of arrangements 
  • Does not require agreement or collaboration between separated parties as the court will decide. 


  • Potentially lengthy and emotionally draining litigation process;
  • Inflexibility;
  • Significant legal costs and 
  • Because the court decides, the parents no longer have control over their parenting arrangements. One or both parents may not ultimately be happy with the orders made. 

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when it comes to parenting arrangements. At Coastal Lawyers, we aim to help parents come to agreements as to the arrangements of their children without the emotional stress and financial burden of going to Court. 


Do you need help?

We offer representation and legal advice in all areas of family law including divorce, separation, parenting property and maintenance.

We offer representation and advice at court in criminal law matters including local court, district court and supreme Court. 

Coastal Lawyers are on the Legal Aid panels for criminal law and family law and can represent eligible clients in legal aid matters. 

Book an appointment online with a lawyer now. 

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The information contained in this legal resource is information only. It is not a substitute for your own research and/or legal advice. If you need legal advice, then you can book an obligation-free appointment with Coastal Lawyers online.

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