Parenting and Child Custody

Parenting and Child Custody Lawyer Melbourne

Separation between parents is challenging and can be further complicated with parenting arrangement. Parents would like to have the right to participate and make decisions of their children’s upbringing including health, education, religion and cultural practices. Equally, they are eager to strike a balance of shared time and living arrangements between parents. 

Extremely grateful to Unite Legal for dealing with my complicated personal case that delivered exceptional results. My consent order application was complex as it involved international relocation of my child and I needed the approval within a short timeframe. I received the Court approval of my complex consent order and am extremely appreciative and grateful to the team at Unite Legal. Thank you!

- Lynette -

Parenting and Child Custody Lawyers Melbourne

Options in Parenting Arrangements & Plans

The options in parenting matter varies depending on the circumstances of the parties. Where parents can reach an agreement with the child’s best interests at heart and willingness to foster positive relationship between the child and parents, their agreement can be documented by Parenting Plan or Court Order via Consent Order Application. Often times, parents encountered obstacles in reaching an agreement including after exhausting mediation, resulting in court proceedings in Federal Circuit and Family Court. You are required to resolve the parenting dispute with genuine steps before initiating court proceedings.

Child Custody & Living Arrangements

Parental Responsibility

The term “custody” is commonly used by parents in discussing duties and responsibilities to their children and “access” for the other parent to have contact with their children. Legally speaking, “custody” refers to parental responsibility, whereas “access” refers to live with arrangements and spend time or communicate with the children. Parental responsibility is defined in the Family Act 1975 as all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have in relation to their children. Parental responsibility provides decision-making power to all aspects of the care, welfare or development of the child such as in school selection, religion choice and medical procedures.

Parents may consider shared parental responsibility, sole parental responsibility or allocating some aspect of parental responsibility to one parent. Having sole parental responsibility does not mean the other parent cannot spend time with the children.

Topics and Key Legal Areas in Parenting Orders or Parenting Plans

The level of detail in Parenting Orders or Parenting Plan varies families to families. Parents who are able to cooperate, engage in coparenting and communicate well may not need to have every orders or arrangement be documented. Generally, topics to be considered in parental responsibility and parental arrangement:
  • Living arrangement
  • Communication with the child
  • School holidays and special occasions
  • Changeovers
  • Issues of care arrangement of the child
  • Provision of care arrangement of child if a parent is unexpectedly unavailable to look after the child
  • Aspects of the child’s relationship with other people such as grandparents and other family members
  • Medical care
  • Education and extra-curricular activities of the child
  • Parent’s behaviour with the child
  • Interstate and international travel with the child
  • Medical care
  • Communication between parents about the child
  • Passport application or passport delivery
  • Injunction in restraining people from behaving in certain manner
  • Child support

Difference of Parenting Plans and Parenting Orders

Parenting Orders is a court order creating obligations on the parties and enforceable. A Parenting Plan is a written document recording agreement of the parties, an informal arrangement and not legally enforceable. Although Parenting Plan is not enforceable, it can be used as an evidence of the agreed matters in later court proceedings. There is less formality in Parenting Plans compared to Parenting Orders.

Speak with our Parenting and Child Custody Lawyers

Unite Legal can assist in parenting family law in:
  • Explaining matters you should take into consideration in parenting plan or parenting orders
  • Guiding you through the process;
  • Negotiating for parenting arrangement;
  • Providing legal advice if you are unsure as to whether a drafted parenting plan or order will achieve its intended purpose;
  • Representing you in taking genuine steps or pre-action procedures;
  • Preparing any agreement reached, parenting plan or consent order application;
  • Representing you in court proceedings including initiating court proceedings if no agreement is reached.
  • Urgent applications such as watchlist order, passport application, recovery order application.

Our multilingual team of lawyers can assist in the following languages

  • Chinese/Mandarin 
  • Cantonese
  • Hakka
  • Malay
  • Malayalam
Frequently Asked Questions

No, parenting and property related matters are completely separate process from divorce application or divorce order.

You have 3 options being Consent Order Application for both parenting and property: or parenting plan and Binding Financial Agreement; or combination of these options. There are pros and cons for these options and should be tailored to based on your circumstances. Contact us to find out more.

You should first seek legal advice of your circumstances before taking any further steps. Generally and depending on your circumstances, you may negotiate parenting arrangement through solicitors or invite your spouse for dispute resolution. If there is no agreement in parenting arrangement, you can then consider initiating court proceedings for parenting orders at the Federal Circuit and Family Court.

Parenting Order is legally enforceable whereas Parenting Plan is not.

In some family law cases, the Court will order for the appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer. Independent Children’s Lawyer act for the child or children of the proceedings and their role is to help the court decide what arrangements are in the best interests of the child or children.

It is not uncommon for the Court to order the child and/or children to attend family therapy, if the Court is of the view that it is in the best interest of the child and/or children. The purpose of family therapy is to provide an insight of the child or children’s emotion and to improve the relationship of the families. For reportable family therapy, the report outlines the progress of therapy and information which could assist the court.

The limitation period for bringing an appeal against any Order of the Family and Federal Circuit Court is within 28 days of making of the appealed orders. If the appeal is out of time, the Applicant must seek an extension of time to file an appeal.

Speak with our Parenting and Child Custody Lawyers

Contact the experience Family Law lawyers at Unite Legal’s by calling (03) 9988 2188, sending an email to, or leave your details on our online enquiry form.

Disclaimer: Website contents is not legal advice. This article is general information and the contents do not constitute as legal advice. The website contents are not intended to and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek legal advice as appropriat