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What is a “Common” parenting arrangement?

Negotiating parenting arrangements can be very difficult. There is no “one size fits all” approach and the arrangements will vary from family to family, depending on a child’s age and developmental needs and the circumstances of the family. 

Kerry Ktenas, Senior Associate, outlines the considerations given by the Court and advises that parents should have their parenting arrangements documented.

The major consideration for any parenting arrangement is what is in your child’s best interests. Under the Family Law Act, there are a number of “considerations” to assist the Court (and parents) in determining what arrangements are in the best interests of a child.


  1. the benefit of a child having a meaningful relationship with each parent; and
  2. whether there is a need to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or family violence, noting that this consideration is given greater weight.

Other considerations

  1. any views expressed by the child, including the child’s maturity level and ability to understand;
  2. the nature of the child’s relationship with each parent and extended family;
  3. level of cooperation between the parents and their willingness to participate in major, long-term decision making for the child;
  4. the likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the effect of being separated from one parent or any other child or person they have been living with;
  5. any practical difficulties or expense of a child communicating with their parents;
  6. the capacity of each parent to meet a child’s needs, including emotional needs;
  7. gender, lifestyle, and cultural background of the family;
  8. parents’ attitudes towards their responsibilities to the child and as a parent; and
  9. family violence involving a child or a member of the child’s family.

Once parents have decided what their arrangements will look like, it should be documented in writing. That is important so that there is clarity, certainty and seeks to avoid disputes from arising.

Whilst there is not one way of creating a parenting arrangement, consideration should be given to the following:

  • the number of days and nights the child is to spend with each parent;
  • arrangements during school holiday periods and special occasions, such as birthdays, Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, the Christmas period, and religious holidays;
  • where changeover will take place and if any third parties will be involved;
  • how each parent will communicate with the child when they are not in their care;
  • how the parents will communicate with each other about the child and matters relevant to their care, welfare, and development;
  • how parenting decisions will be made; and
  • communicating with education facilities, medical practitioners, or other service providers for your child.

If you need help with an appropriate parenting arrangement or want to document one that is currently in place or recently agreed, we can help.   

Call us on 03 8602 2000 or email

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