Child custody & parenting plan | MJLegal
parenting arrangements

Child Custody & Parenting Plans

Children are the cornerstone of any marriage. Difficulty in managing the long-term care and welfare of children is one of the main reasons many couples continue to stay in unsuitable relationships.

At MJ Legal, our lawyers understand the anxiety couples may face when dealing with arrangements relating to their children, when separating. We will assist you in understanding your rights and responsibilities surrounding your children in the event of a divorce. We will also help you negotiate with your ex-spouse and draft applications to assist you in getting custody of your children.

If you are a grandparent wanting to obtain the custody of your grandchild, our lawyers will assist you in identifying your rights and making the necessary court applications.

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What is a parenting plan?

In Australian law, both parents have an equal shared responsibility towards their children.

However, if you are in an unhappy relationship and have decided to separate from your partner, it is vital that you make parenting arrangements for the care of your minor children.

There are three broad ways to formalize arrangements for the care of your children:

  1. Making a parenting plan with each other.
  2. Entering into orders by consent with each other and submitting it to Court.
  3. Initiating an application in court for determination by a judge.

Initiating an application in court should be done only if you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent. In this instance, a judge will make parenting orders by taking into consideration the best interest of the children.

Interestingly. grandparents have the ability to seek parenting orders from court in some limited circumstances.

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Parenting Plan & Consent Orders

Australian law places a heavy emphasis on the welfare of children when a couple is separating.

To achieve this, the law provides us with tools to avoid contentious disputes and arrive at arrangements for the care of children by consent.

Are you in a position to negotiate with your ex-partner?

Then, the best option for you would be to discuss how each of you would participate in the care of your children.

There are two options available for you once agreement is reached:

  1. Executing a parenting plan
    • This is an informal agreement between the couple outlining the arrangements for the children's care.
  2. Consent orders
    • This is a binding order issued by Court.
    • Parties would negotiate and submit orders by consent which the Court will review and grant if satisfied with the arrangement.

Trying to understand all your rights and obligations can be difficult during this stressful period. Our lawyers can help educate you and negotiate with your ex- spouse with respect to matters of child custody and child maintenance.

We can draft parenting plans or consent orders on your behalf.

Parenting Orders through Court

Negotiations aren't always successful when you are going through a tough time in your relationship.

If you are faced with an unreasonable ex-spouse, you have the option to initiate an application in court to determine arrangements for the care of your children.

Either you or your ex-partner can initiate court proceedings by making an application to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

The process of going to court should be reserved as a last resort. In the event that you do decide to take this step, we will advise you on your rights and help you navigate the process.

We will assist you through each step of the process by making the necessary applications to Court, communicate with Court, your ex-partner's solicitors and other related authorities.

Our lawyers will provide you with robust legal representation to help you achieve the best outcome for your children.

Grandparent Carers

Are you a grandparent wanting the custody of your grandchild?

It is important for the children to have a strong and healthy relationship with their grandparents even when the child's parents have separated.

Sometimes, you will be asked to take a more permanent caring role for your grandchild if it is in the child's best interest. If the child's parents are not in a position to take care of the child or if residing with the parents is not in the child's best interest, Court will order the child to be under the care of their grandparents.

Grandparents can apply for a parenting order if you can prove that you are concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child.

At MJ Legal, we can meet your needs by assisting you in making a parenting application as the grandparent and provide you with robust representation if your dispute is contested. We can also direct you to various assistance and guidance programs where you'll be able to gain more insights on becoming a grandparent carer.

Have your parenting plan in place with MJ Legal

Need to decide the best care arrangements for your children?

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Parenting Plan Cover

What does a parenting plan cover?

A parenting plan is not a legally enforceable agreement. It is different to a parenting order.

The plan can outline the care arrangements for your children, as agreed between you and your ex-partner.

A parenting plan will not generally include anything in relation to child support payments or child maintenance.

What is included in a parenting plan?

  • The person with whom the child lives (resident parent)
  • Care arrangement for the non-resident parent
  • Holiday arrangements
  • Changeovers
  • Communication with the children
  • Interstate and overseas travel

Child Support

What is child support?
It is the payments made by one parent to the other, to assist in the care and welfare of their child.

What is child support used for?
This money may be used for schooling, clothing, extra-curricular activities and the day-to-day expenses of the child.

How can you have a child support agreement in place?

There are two ways of having a child support agreement:

  1. A private agreement outlining how much child support is paid or
  2. By making an application to the Child support agency

What are the factors taken into consideration when deciding child support?

  • Income of both parents.
  • The time and care provided by each parent to the child.
  • The age of the child.

At MJ Legal, we assist parties in drafting your private child support agreements or making child support applications to the child support agency.


In most instances the answer is no. Both parents have an equal shared parental responsibility for their children in Australia regardless of the parents being separated or divorced.

In certain exceptional circumstances such as family violence and child abuse, the mother can take an Intervention order against the father to protect the child. Apart from such instances, keeping the child away from his or her father would not be in the best interest of the child.

The judges would mainly consider the best interest of the children in deciding on the child custody matters.


The primary care of the children will not solely depend on the financial stability of one parent. The main consideration in deciding the primary carer is the best interest of the child.

If the primary carer does not have adequate means to provide for the children and the other parent does, the financially able parent will be requested to make a child support payment depending on the assessment done by Services Australia.