Parenting Plans for the Australian Family Court are a written agreement between parents (or other parties with parental responsibility) about arrangements for the care of their children. It sets out the living arrangements, communication, and decision-making responsibilities for each parent, as well as any other specific arrangements relevant to the children’s best interests. Parenting plans are encouraged by the court as a way for parents to resolve disputes about their children without going to court. However, they are not legally binding unless they are made into court orders.

FDR stands for Family Dispute Resolution in Australia. It’s a process where separating parents or parties with parental responsibility can attend a conference with a trained mediator to discuss and try to reach agreement on parenting arrangements for their children. The aim of FDR is to help families resolve disputes in a respectful and cooperative manner, without the need for court action. If a parenting plan is agreed upon during an FDR session, it may be made into a court order or incorporated into a Consent Order by agreement between the parties. The Family Court of Australia considers FDR as the first step in resolving parenting disputes before making a court application.

It is compulsory for couples to attend an FDR practitioner prior to attending the Family Court of Australia. The court encourages separating parents to reach agreement on arrangements for the care of their children through negotiation, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution methods. If parents are unable to reach agreement, the court may make orders regarding parenting arrangements, taking into account the best interests of the children. However, having a written agreement in the form of a parenting plan can simplify the process and avoid the need for court action, as well as providing clarity and stability for the children and their parents.