Parenting orders, consent orders, parenting plans and more… so what’s the difference?

There are a range of options available to separated parents seeking to formalise arrangements concerning their children. Figuring out which option is best for you begins with understanding the differences between them.

  Parenting Plans Parenting Orders Consent Orders
Does it need to be in writing? Y Y Y
Is joint agreement required? Y N Y
Do I need Court approval? N Y Y
Are there any fees involved? N Y Y
Is it legally enforceable? N Y Y


A parenting plan is an informal agreement between the parties. Parenting plans are not enforceable.

A parenting order is made by consent or by order of the Court. Where the parties are in agreement, they are able to jointly file their proposed orders (consent orders) at Court for approval. Where the parties are not in agreement, each party is able to propose orders and the Court will ultimately determine final parenting orders.

So, which is best for me?

Parenting plans are good, but their lack of enforceability makes them problematic. You may spend months agreeing on a parenting plan with your former partner but if either party breaches the plan, it cannot be enforced. Parenting orders (whether by consent or not) have the benefit of certainty and enforceability.

Please note that the above information does not constitute legal advice and every case turns on its own unique facts. If you would like to obtain legal advice in relation parenting orders and parenting plans, please contact Kavanagh Lawyers on 08 6557 5888 or email