What is a Parenting Order?
A Parenting Order is an order made by the Family Law Courts (the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court) in relation to children’s issues. Parenting Orders can be made either by agreement (a “consent order”), or by the Court where there is a dispute between the parties. The Court’s primary consideration when making a Parenting Order is the best interests of the child.
What are Parenting Orders about?
Parenting Orders most commonly address the following issues:
- Who is to be responsible for making important decisions about the care, welfare and development of a child;
- Who a child is to live with;
- When and how often a child is to spend time with the parent they do not primarily live with;
- The communication a child is to have with his or her parents and other family members;
- Any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of a child.
Every case is different and has its own set of facts and circumstances. Parenting Orders will therefore often address several other issues specific to a particular case.
Who can apply for parenting orders?
Anyone who is concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child is able to make an application for Parenting Orders. They are most commonly applied for by one or both parents of a child, but sometimes grandparents might also apply.
The child is also entitled to apply for Parenting Orders, but must have a case guardian appointed unless the Court is satisfied that the child understands the nature and possible consequences of their case and can conduct it themselves.
Changing a Parenting Order
Once Parenting Orders have been made, they are extremely difficult to change. The Court will only consider changing existing Parenting Orders where there has been a significant change in circumstances since the making of the original Order.
Even where there has been a significant change in circumstances, it does not necessarily mean that the Court will change the existing Orders unless it is satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child to do so.