What are Family Law Parenting Orders?
Parenting orders are the process of obtaining orders from the Family Court to determine child custody and care. Parenting orders are separate from getting a divorce, or having a family law property settlement, although are often done at the same time.
This guide is designed to provide a brief overview of family law parenting orders, however it is essential that you obtain legal advice on your individual circumstances.
What Kind of Parenting Orders Can Be Made in Family Law Proceedings?
The Family Court has extremely broad powers to make orders, and can include:
- Who a child or children are to live with;
- The time that the child or children are to spend with another person;
- Parental responsibility – that is, who makes the major long term decisions for the child, including their health and medical treatment, education, and schooling;
- Whether parents have to consult with each other about decisions made for a child or children and how those consultations are to occur;
- The communication a child or children are to have with other persons (i.e. by telephone, email or letters);
- Steps to be taken to take account of the changing needs or circumstances of a child or the parties before an application is made to the Court for a variation of any orders;
- The process to be used for resolving disputes; and
- Any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of, or parental responsibility for, a child.
Are you Eligible to Apply for Parenting Orders?
Parenting proceedings may be issued in the Family Court of Australia if the child, a parent or party to the proceedings is either present or ordinarily resident in Australia, or an Australian Citizen.
The Family Court can decline to exercise jurisdiction where proceedings are pending in another country.
Unless an exception applies, it is compulsory for parents to attend Family Dispute Resolution (‘FDR’) and make a genuine effort to resolve any child-related dispute before issuing legal proceedings.
If you do not attend FDR and obtain a certificate pursuant to s60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) from an FDR Practitioner, your application to the Family Court may be dismissed. There are however, some exceptions to having to obtain a s60I certificate before filing a parenting application with the Court, for example, where there are serious allegations of violence or abuse, urgency, and allegations of serious risk to the child.
What does the family court look at when making parenting orders?
Section 60CA of the Family Law Act sets out that the Court’s paramount consideration, when making parenting orders is the best interests of the child.
Whilst the Court looks to facilitate the child having the benefit of a meaningful relationship with each of his or her parents, the Court must also consider the need to protect that child from physical or psychological harm (by) being subjected to or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
Hence there is a careful balancing and weighing of all factors that the Court must undertake when making parenting orders. The application of the law will be highly dependent on your and your children’s particular circumstances.
We Can Help with Parenting Orders
At Thornton and King, our expert family lawyers have decades of experience dealing with parenting and child custody matters. If you’d like assistance with getting parenting orders, or would like to have a confidential discussion about your rights and obligations, give us a call or submit an enquiry now.