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Parenting Plan timings

Are Parenting Plans easier to understand than Court Orders?

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Understanding the care timings with children and holidays

We have a parenting plan in place that states;

1.    That the children spend time with and communicate with the mother upon agreement between the parties. The anticipated contact between the children and the mother is as follows;

(a)           For half of the Christmas school holidays with the mother to have the first half in even numbered years and the second half in odd numbered years.

(b)          For half of the gazetted school holidays, with the mother to have the first half in even numbered years and the second half in odd numbered years.

           For the mother to initially spend time with the children every second weekend, commencing at 5.00pm on Friday and concluding two days later being the Sunday at 5.00pm. The first of such period to commence on the 11th May 2012 at 5.00pm

The Mother is now stating that clause C will occur EVERY weekened including through the holiday periods as mentioned in clause A & B. Is her understanding correct?
Point 1 That the children spend time with and communicate with the mother upon agreement between the parties. i.e. Either parent can say what they wish but contact can only occur if there is agreement. The following is "anticipated" only i.e. not set in stone and thus highlighting the importance of the word AGREEMENT.

With regard to clause C, it is overidden by the fact that what occurs in a gazetted holiday is quite specific (even if ignoring the agreement aspect). As such even if C applies A and B override C. e.g. if the plan/orders were to specify that on Mother's Day ….. then it would not be overridden by a a less specific order regarding weekends.

However, this does highlight how bad some orders/plans can be. Perhaps you should seek to have the plan/orders amended to clarify the specifics.

e.g. perhaps add the words to C; "except during gazetted holidays". Furthermore there is the argument that weekend access is to only initially happen (the intention likely being that contact increases, however that is not specified, so it could be that contact is to reduce to no weekend contact).

Personally though, assuming that it were "safe" to do so, I wouldn't argue and would welcome the child having as near to 50/50 contact as possible. However, from the wording there could well be an issue in regards to the other parents ability to reach agreement thus the clear importance and reason why upon agreement by the parties has been included.

Note that there are those who are better qualified to discuss interpretation. I have very limited knowledge of Family Law in comparison to others, especially of note those who have an SRL logo (they are persons who assist Self Represented Litigants).
Brickiesmate said
We have a parenting plan in place
No you don't. Its a completely useless document the way it is worded currently.
Brickiesmate said
… upon agreement between the parties.
Whoever wrote this plan should not look for employment as a family law practitioner. There are no gazetted school holidays any longer either.
Brickiesmate said
The Mother is now stating that clause C will occur EVERY weekend including through the holiday periods as mentioned in clause A & B. Is her understanding correct?
The question you have to ask is "What is the definition of the school holiday period". That is the first step because it defines what the school holiday period actually is.

Note also that they change depending on which holiday it is AND they are also different in AIS (Australian independent schools) and also in States as well.

If we take the July school holidays in 2012 at a state school in NSW they start on a Monday the 2nd and finish on Friday the 13th of July. The school holiday period is a BLOCK of time from the 2nd until the 13th July, therefore the weekend of the 7th and 8th is a  SCHOOL HOLIDAY period and not a normal weekend. She would have access on the weekend either side of the school holiday period if they were hers.

If we look at the Spring holiday in NSW they start on Monday the 24th September and finish on Friday 5th October.

IF she had the weekend BEFORE the school holiday period , that is she had Fri 21st, Sat 22nd and Sun 23rd it seems ridiculous to drop the child at 5pm on Sunday 23rd only to have to pick up the child again on Monday for her "Half of the school holidays" in an even year.

If she has weekend contact on 6th and 7th October then she should have that contact on the Friday 5th from 5pm and drop off on the Sunday. BUT she cannot pick up at 5pm on the Friday because that is still the school holiday period so she would have to pick up Saturday and drop off Sunday. Again this has not been thought out. ***
Sec SPCA said
Apologies readers as I reversed the weekends. I have corrected the post above so it is now correctly explained. Again this shows how easy it is to make errors when working out pick up and drop off arrangements
***

The other issue to consider when dealing with school holidays is "when does the normal weekend resume". That is often another sticking point. Usually I would suggest that the parent who has had the last week of the school holidays and drops the child at school on the Monday (Tuesday if its a pupil free day) does not have the next weekend.

When doing Court orders we often look to state that the weekend contact is suspended during school holidays. Orders would normally be collect after school on Friday and drop off Monday before school. In the real world you would set up holiday orders to begin after school Friday and collection half way and/or  then drop off to before school Monday with changeover mid point.

The parenting plan in this case could easily be modified if you simply agree, or not modified and you simply agree as the case may be to some sensible workable arrangement. What is the problem with half the school holidays as eluded to by moderator MikeT, instead of the ill thought out hanky panky nonsense you currently have.

There is no point in making it hard and complex. What is workable, fair and reasonable? Does including the weekends at either end work for you. It should work, and therefore set the holidays to start at the end of school and end at the beginning of school when school resumes. That way its easy. Work out who gets the child the weekend after and the fortnightly regime starts again from that point and is suspended during school holidays.
Brickiesmate said
For the mother to initially spend time with the children every second weekend
A most unusual statement in a parenting plan. Does "initially" mean just a week or two? Does it mean there is an intention to extend this time at some magical later date or does contact stop at some time in the future? Seems to me you should engage someone experienced in this area to set up a parenting plan. You clearly have not been in the "Parenting Plan" forums on this site.

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
When I initially read this, I just about fell off my chair. I hope that no money was spent in the drafting of this dodgy parenting plan.

I would suggest that you have a look here http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCAfam/2012/ to get an idea for wording of orders that have been decided (and sometimes agreed upon) within the judicial system. There is a lot to read, and some are certainly better that others, but you will at least get an idea of how to word things.

If I could be so bold to ask, who did you get to write these orders up. And apologies in advance if you were the one who wrote them up. If the plan is signed and has been lodged with the courts, you may strike some difficulties if either party "breached" them.

This will give you some more information about parenting plans and orders. http://flwg.com.au/plans/pg/start
Thanks Mike and Boots. The rest of the plan is not worded any better. To say the least, I am looking for a better firm.

Can the SPCA Secretary provide their understanding (with the current plan wording) if every 2nd weekend also applies through the holidays ?

I have understood the current plan to mean that the alternate weekends do not apply during school holidays.

Thanks to all in advance.  :thumbs:
You have a plan and all it shows is intent which means it is totally open to each party's interpretation and their goodwill (or lack of) to each other to make it work.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding suspension of contact during a holiday period even if Orders are badly written. However several Magistrates have written that an interpretation would be that other contact orders would be suspended during a holiday period. The difficulties obviously are "when does regular contact recommence?" Again the accepted recommencement say - if fortnightly - would be 2 weeks after the conclusion of holiday contact.

Unfortunately many parenting plans are so badly written as to cause total confusion to the parties. That said many consent orders are also badly written and a particular FM took issue at a recent legal conference with the legal profession for 'badly' written orders.

For peace of mind any plans or orders should be thoroughly scrutinised by very experienced people before you sign on the dotted line.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Brickiesmate said
….
Can the SPCA Secretary provide their understanding (with the current plan wording) if every 2nd weekend also applies through the holidays ?

I have understood the current plan to mean that the alternate weekends do not apply during school holidays.
If you follow my amended post (#51468) you should see that the weekend in the middle of the school holidays is "school holidays" and the weekends either side are not. How that will fit in your case will depend on who has those two weekends.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
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