Care arrangements when parents have separated
What might a parenting agreement cover?
Parents can make their own “parenting agreement” to deal with who will provide day-to-day care for the children and, if only one parent has day-to-day care, when and how the other parent will have contact with the child (including over holidays).
The Ministry of Justice have a parenting plan workbook that will help you work through and record your parenting plan. It will help you write a schedule for the day-to-day care of the child. It will prompt you to consider things like what will happen on special occasions and who will look after the child’s important documents.
To download a workbook, visit www.justice.govt.nz and search “Agree on a parenting plan”.
Is a parenting agreement legally binding?
No. A parenting agreement can’t be enforced in the courts like other agreements or contracts. This means if one of you are not following the agreement, you can’t ask the Family Court to make them follow the agreement.
However, parents and guardians can apply to the Family Court to formalise a parenting agreement by turning the agreement into a court order called a Consent Order. The agreement can then be enforced like any other court order.
As well as parenting issues, agreements brought to the Family Court in this way sometimes also include guardianship issues, such as which school the child will go to. For more information on how to apply for a Consent Order, go to www.justice.govt.nz and search “Apply for a Consent Order”.
What if a parenting agreement isn’t working?
If parents can’t agree about what the agreement means or how it should work, either parent can apply to the Family Court for a Parenting Order.