The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

1.1.P.20 Parenting plan


Parenting plans/orders were introduced into the Family Law Act 1975, in 1996 by the Family Law Reform. The plans/orders can be compared to custody/court orders (1.1.C.70) that were issued before the Law Reform.

Generally, parenting plans/orders give both parents (1.1.P.10) equal legal responsibility (1.1.L.20) for their child, unless specified otherwise. If a parenting plan/order does not specify that only one person has legal responsibility for the child, it is taken that each parent has joint legal responsibility for the child.


For the purposes of FA and the SSAct, a parenting plan has the meaning given by the Family Law Act section 63C. Generally, it is a written agreement made between the parents of a child, which is signed and dated by both parents. Parenting plans deal with any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child, or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child. They are an alternative to court making decisions about such matters. A parenting plan may specify:

  • who cares for a child
  • the amount of time a child spends with each parent, and
  • how both parents will share their duties and responsibilities for raising their child.

Examples: Arrangements for residence, contact and child support.

Act reference: Family Law Act 1975 section 4(1)-'parenting plan', section 63C Meaning of parenting plan and related terms

Last reviewed: