Parenting plan vs consent order – what’s the difference?

September 01, 2022

One of the hardest and most stressful parts of separation is working out what arrangements to put in place for your kids.

Determining what family life is going to look like as you move forward with your separation can feel like a minefield that is impossible to navigate. But it doesn’t have to be like this. 

It is absolutely possible to find a parenting arrangement that works for both you and your Ex. We see it happen all the time. 

Is it always smooth sailing? No it isn’t. But with the right tools, resources and support at your side you can get some certainty, for you and your family, and make a plan.

What is a parenting plan? 

Are you and your Ex on the same page when it comes to what’s in the best interests of your children? Do you trust them to stick to an agreed-upon arrangement? If that’s the case, a parenting plan could be a good option for you. 

A parenting plan is an informal agreement between you and your Ex, that maps out your child arrangements and ongoing care (like when your children will be with each parent and who pays for what).

It’s important to know that, while this is a simple and cost-effective way of organising your family arrangements, a parenting plan is not a legally enforceable document. This means that if your Ex strays from the agreement, you’re going to be thrust into a tricky and uncertain situation.

How do I make a parenting plan? 

If you think a parenting plan is the right option for you and your Ex, you might be wondering where to begin. 

Here are some key points you’ll want your parenting plan to cover: 

  • Living arrangements (where do the children live and spend their time?)
  • Schooling, childcare and extracurricular activities (where will they go and who pays?)
  • Each parent’s financial responsibility for the children (for example: child support payments)
  • How you and your Ex will communicate with each other (will you email, text, or use an app?), and what the timeframe will be
  • If you have any religious or cultural practices that you’d like to be upheld 

You can also engage a family lawyer to help you write your parenting plan. If you’re interested in getting a non-judgmental, supportive lawyer to help you through it, book a free clarity call with us today.

What is a consent order? 

If you’d prefer to have a formal parenting agreement that is legally binding or disagree with your Ex on what’s in the best interests of your children, a consent order is your best option. 

A consent order has the stamp of the Court, meaning that if you or your Ex doesn’t abide by the agreement, you’re technically breaking the law and you could be penalised.

How do I get a consent order? 

While you can “do it yourself”, we would highly recommend working with a family lawyer before you apply for a consent order. 

As you are creating an agreement that has legal consequences, ensuring you have full clarity on what you’re agreeing couldn’t be more important – not only for you but for your kids too.

A family lawyer can also help you complete and lodge documents with the Court (which can be a tedious and complicated task if you haven’t done it before). 

When you’re ready, here are a few things we can help you with…

You can book in a FREE 30 minute Clarity Call to discuss your situation and get answers to the issues causing you the most stress right now.

You can download our How to Survive the First 90 Days After Separation Guide which is jam-packed with easy, actionable steps you can take in the early days of your separation as you start to uncover and plan how you want to move forward.

You can connect with us on Instagram and Facebook where we share heaps of tips, tools, and strategies to support you on your separation journey.


This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or any other professional advice.

Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

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