Tips for enforcing your Parenting Plan: Making co-parenting work

At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers, we understand the importance of upholding parenting arrangements and ensuring compliance from all parties involved.  Our dedicated team will provide you with the necessary legal support and representation to making your parenting plan work.

In the following article, we will be providing you with a few effective tips to help you with your parenting plan.

Reach out to our team today to get personalised advice.

Agreed about the arrangements for your child?

There are two ways you can document your agreement for the arrangements for your children under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), they are by:

  1. Consent Orders; or
  2. A parenting plan.

    Collaborative Law

Working out the arrangements for your children without having to go to Court

The end of a marriage or de facto relationship comes with emotional and practical difficulties and considerations.  It is important for the whole family to recover including the children. Minimising conflict and creating certainty is important, particularly for the children.

The family law system encourages separating parents to work out arrangements for children between themselves. You can do this by making a parenting plan.

What is a parenting plan?

Parenting plan is a written, signed, and dated agreement made, free from threat, duress or coercion, between the parents of a child.  The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides that the parenting plan may deal with any of the following matters: –

  1. The person or persons with whom the child is to live.
  2. The time the child is to spend with another person or other persons.
  3. The allocation of parental responsibility for a child. We will chat about the meaning of parental responsibility later, but it should be noted that the allocation of responsibility may be made in favour of a parent or any other persons including a grandparent or other relative.
  4. If two or more persons are to share their parental responsibility for a child – the parenting plan should set out the form of consultation those persons are to have with one another about decisions to be made about the exercise of that responsibility.
  5. The communication the child is to have with another person or persons which might be by letter, telephone, or other electronic means.
  6. Maintenance of the child [unless child Support Assessment Act (1989) applies.
  7. The process to be used for changing the plan to take account of the changing needs or circumstances of the child or parties to the plan.
  8. Any aspect of the care, welfare, or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

Creating the parenting plan

telling your children about divorce

Each of the matters above should be considered when making your parenting plan.  In developing the parenting plan, you are not intending to go to Court.  However, the matters that the Court would consider when making a parenting order could be used as a guide.  Those considerations are: –

Child’s Best Interest

The child’s needs must come first. The child has the right to know both their parents and the right to be protected from harm.  Safety of your child comes first when considering their needs.

Depending on the age of the child or children, you should also think about the views the child has expressed, the child’s relationship with both parents and significant other family relationships.

Equal shared parental responsibility

Except where there are issues of violence or abuse, the law presumes that it is in the best interest of a child for both parents to have equal shared parental responsibility.  This means an equal role in making decisions about major long-term issues that affect children, such as schooling and health care.

The time arrangements –

If the child spending equal time with each parent is reasonably practicable, and in the best interest of the child, you might consider that type of arrangement.  Alternatively, if that is not appropriate, you could consider an arrangement where the child lives with one parent and the other spends substantial and significant time with the child.

Are Parenting Plans enforceable?

You cannot create a legally enforceable agreement as parenting plans are not legally binding but can be instructive should issues arise and you find yourself in Court at a later stage.

Section 65DAB of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) requires the court to consider the terms of the most recent parenting plan when determining what parenting orders to make, if it is the child’s best interests to do so.

What if you want to change the parenting arrangements?

If you want to change the arrangements in a parenting plan, if it is safe to do so, you should contact the other party to raise with them the proposed change to see if they agree. If you need help to try and reach agreement you could choose to communicate through your lawyers or attend Family Dispute Resolution counselling.

What is a parent does not follow the terms of the parenting plan?

Depending on the seriousness of the breach, you could either communicate through your lawyers or attend Family Dispute Resolution mediation.   Obtaining a Section 60I Certificate will be necessary, should you need to approach the Court for Orders.

Seeking legal advice

Seeking legal help when creating a parenting plan is essential. Family law is complex, and an experienced lawyer can ensure compliance with relevant laws and provide valuable advice. They anticipate challenges, reduce conflicts, and promote objectivity. By investing in legal assistance, you protect your child’s rights and well-being.

At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers we have lawyers who specialise in providing parent coordination and family dispute resolution services.

Reach out to our team today!


At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers, we offer specialist family law advice. If you need help developing a parenting plan, or with anything related to your separation and divorce, please do not hesitate in arranging an appointing with one of our family lawyers who will be able to assist you with any questions and provide tailored advice for your circumstances.  

Contact us at or call (02) 9437 0010.


About the Authors:

Lisa Wagner is Managing Director and Principal of Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers. Lisa is an Accredited Family Law specialist holding honours degrees in economics and law. She is also a Collaboratively trained Family Lawyer, a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and a Parenting Coordinator. Lisa has over 30 years’ experience as a specialist family lawyer, experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters; working for the majority of that time in Sydney’s CBD as well as on Sydney’s lower North Shore and Northern Beaches.

Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn


Find out how we can help you

Personalised advice with no obligation
Call us on (02) 9437 0010