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What to consider when making parenting arrangements

All families are different, and when making arrangements for children or applying for a parenting order, it’s important to make sure the arrangements are practical and in the children’s best interests

If your children are in someone else's care and you think they may be in danger, contact the police. It’s a matter for the police whether they will take action. In an emergency, call 000. Get legal advice. 

Every family is different and there are no standard or set arrangements for children.

The Family Law Act sets out what matters should be considered, and these will help you to make arrangements for your children or when applying for a parenting order.

Practical issues you should consider include

  • any existing arrangements and if they are working)
  • how far away you live from each other and how this can affect your arrangements (e.g travel time, transport costs)
  • family arrangements with relatives and other people important to the children
  • religious and other family commitments your work commitments and those involved in the children’s care
  • children’s sporting and social commitments
  • transport arrangements for children (e.g pick-ups and drop-offs)
  • holidays, birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions
  • contact by telephone, email and post
  • how to sort out any disagreements about the current arrangements, and how you will change them in the future as circumstances change
  • how parental responsibility is to be shared and, if there are more than two or people sharing this, how you will communicate with each other
  • your children’s age and developmental stage e.g very young children may benefit from periods of contact that are shorter but more frequent.

Example orders

Here are some examples of orders. The sample orders cover:

  • equal shared parental responsibility
  • telephone, email and skype communication
  • arrangements for holidays and special occasions
  • travel and transport costs
  • children ’s activities
  • medical and specific issues.

Equal time orders

  • That unless otherwise agreed between the parents, the children <insert name> born <insert date of birth> and <insert name> born <insert date> (“the children”) live with the mother and the father, on a week about basis, starting <insert date>
  • The mother and the father have equal, shared parental responsibility for long-term issues relating to the children.
  • When the children are living with the mother and the father in line with paragraph 1, the children shall live with the mother in week 1, from after school Monday to 9am the following Monday and with the father, in week 2 from 9am Monday to after school the following Monday.
  • When the children are living with each parent, that parent will be responsible for the day-to-day care and decisions for the children.
  • When changeovers do not take place at school, the mother will collect the children from the father at the be.g inning of week 1 and the father will collect the children from the mother at the be.g inning of week 2.

Telephone/email/skype communication

  • The children will communicate with the parent with whom they are not living each Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/ Saturday/Sunday night/s by landline/mobile/email/skype, and the parent with whom they are living will arrange that communication.
  • When the children are living with the mother or the father, the parent who has the children in their care shall facilitate any reasonable request by any of the children to communicate with the other parent.

Holidays

  • Each parent will be able to spend four weeks holiday a year with the children, with no more than a two-week block period at one time, and the parent who wants to spend holiday time with the children will provide the other parent with one month’s notice of the holiday period he/she wants to have with the children.

Special occasions

  • On the children’s birthdays the parent who does not have the children in their care will spend from after school until <insert time>pm with the children if a school day or for four hours, at time agreed with the other parent/ from <insert time>to <insert time> if a weekend day.
  • On Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, if the children are in the father’s/mother’s care, they will return to the mother’s/father’s care at 5pm the Saturday before Mother’s/ Father’s Day and remain in their care.
  • At Christmas, with the mother/father from <insert time> Christmas Eve to <insert time> Christmas Day and with the father/mother from <insert time> Christmas Day to <insert time> Boxing Day.
  • With the father/mother on Christmas Day in odd/even numbered years and the mother/father on Christmas Eve in even/odd numbered years.

Travel or transport costs

  • The parents will share equally or <insert % split> the air/train/bus fare for the children to spend time with the mother/father as outlined in order #<insert order number>.

    OR

  • The mother/father will pay the air/train/bus fare for the children to spend time with the mother/father as outlined in order #<insert order number>.

    OR

  • The father/mother will pay for the children’s transport costs and will, no later than 14 days before the day he/she is due to spend time with the children, send copies of travel tickets/documents, including details of the departure and return dates, flight/train/bus numbers to the other father/mother. If the transport is not paid for, before the 14 day period ends, the time with the children will be suspended until the tickets are paid for and given to the other parent.

Children’s activities

  • The mother and father will ensure the children attend all extracurricular and social activities that occur when the children are in their care including but not limited to <insert details>

Medical

  • The mother and the father are to notify the other as soon as possible of any medical emergency, serious injury or illness involving the children.
  • If a child is taking prescribed medication, the parent who buys the child’s medication will provide the other parent with the medication and instructions for its use, when the child goes into the other parent’s care.

    OR

  • Each parent will ensure they have a supply of the medication <insert name> taken by <insert child’s name> and will follow the prescribing medical professional’s directions for administering the medication to the child.
  • The parents will ensure <insert child’s name> does not consume nuts/e.g gs/dairy products/gluten when he/she is in their care.
  • Except in the case of an emergency, the parents agree the children will visit the <insert name> Medical Centre/Dr <insert name>

Specific issues

  • The parents will communicate about issues concerning the children through a communication book that will travel between the parents with the children. The communication by the parents in the book will always relate only to the children and be polite and respectful.

    OR

  • The parents will communicate about issues concerning the children through a secure (password protected) email account, set up and maintained solely for this purpose, and email communication will be polite and respectful.
  • Neither parent is to use physical discipline on the children or allow someone else to do so.
  • Neither parent will speak badly of the other to the children or where the children can hear, nor allow another person to do so.
  • Neither parent will discuss any issues in dispute between the parents to the children or where the children can hear, nor allow another person to do so.
  • Each parent will be primarily responsible for caring for the children while in their care.
  • Neither parent will question the children about the other parent’s household, their family or friends.
  • If either parent changes their contact telephone number or address they must notify the other within 24 hours of that change.

To be given to the children’s school/day care and any medical professional treating the children. The school/day care or medical professional is authorised to speak with either parent about the children’s health, education, development and welfare. 

The children are not to be left unsupervised in the care of <insert name/s>

Starting a new relationship

You don’t have to talk to your former partner about starting a new relationship.

You will need to speak with your former partner if you want to move to another area and this would make it difficult for the children to see the other parent. You’ll need to try to come to an agreement about the move. For more information, see moving or travelling with children in Australia . Get legal advice

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you or your children are at risk of harm
  • you disagree about the children’s best interests
  • you’re thinking about signing a parenting plan or consent orders, and before you file a consent order with the court
  • you’re going to court to get a parenting order.

Get legal advice

We may give legal advice about making agreements for the arrangements for children.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help.

Women's legal Service gives free legal advice to women on areas of law including domestic violence and family law.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Family Relationship Advice Line gives information about the family law system in Australia.

Family Relationship Centres gives information, referrals, dispute resolution and advice on parenting after separation.

Family Court deals with family law cases. Court forms and information on family court processes are available online.

Department of Communities (Child Safety Services) investigates reports of harm or suspected child abuse against any child under 18.

Domestic and Family Violence Court Assistance Services gives information and help about domestic violence and applications in some courts in Queensland. Court assistance workers can also help with applications for legal Aid and referrals to other services.

DV Connect — gives counselling, information, referral and help including refuge and shelter placement and crisis intervention to people affected by domestic violence. They also manage the Pets in crisis project arranging foster care for pets while people affected by domestic violence are in temporary accommodation.

Mensline (DV Connect) is a free, confidential telephone counselling, referral and support service for men.

Men and Family Relationship Counselling Service has a range of services including domestic violence prevention counselling and help for men who have had police contact around domestic violence issues.

Queensland Police can help if you or your children are at risk of harm.

Related links and information
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