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The fundamentals of parenting order – what you need to know

According to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

What is a Parenting Order?

A parenting order is a set of orders made by a court about parenting arrangements for a child. A court can make a parenting order based on an agreement between the parties (consent orders) or after a court hearing or trial. When a parenting order is made, each person affected by the order must follow it.

What can Parenting Orders deal with?

  • who the child/ren will live with
  • how much time the child/ren will spend with each parent and with other people, such as grandparents
  • the allocation of parental responsibility
  • how the child/ren will communicate with a parent they do not live with, or other people
  • any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child/ren.

A parenting order can require the parties to follow certain steps before applying to a court to change an order. It can also state the process for resolving disputes that arise from the order.

If the parenting order provides that two or more people have equal shared parental responsibility, any decision about a major long-term issue in relation to a child must be made jointly. This requires each person to consult with the other person and make a genuine effort to reach a joint decision.

Your legal obligations

  • You must do everything a parenting order says. In doing so, you cannot be merely passive but must take positive action and this positive obligation includes taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the order is put into effect. You must also positively encourage your children to comply with the orders. For example where the order states your children are to spend time with another party, you must not only ensure that the children are available but must also positively encourage them to go and do so. There are agencies in the community that can help you and your family adjust to and comply with the order (see details above).
  • If a parenting order has been made that provides for a child to spend time with, live with, communicate with a person, or a person is to have parental responsibility for a child, then it is an offence to send the child from Australia without an order of the Court or without the consent in writing of the person in whose favour the order has been made. Penalty is imprisonment for three years.
  • The order remains in force until a new parenting order or parenting plan changes it in some way.
  • Even if the needs or circumstances of you, the child or the other party change, the court order applies until it is formally changed by a court or, in some situations, you enter into a parenting plan with the other party.
  • Sometimes people talk to each other about changing arrangements set out in a parenting order. These talks do not change the order.

If you and the other party agree to change the arrangements, you may enter into a parenting plan or apply for consent orders that vary the existing orders. For more information about consent orders, go to https://www.familycourt.gov.au, call 1300 352 000 or visit a family law registry near you.

If you want to change a parenting order and the other party does not agree, family dispute resolution can help you and the other party work through your disagreement. Resolving issues this way is less formal than going to court and should cost less in money, time and emotion. If an agreement cannot be reached, you may consider applying to a court for orders.

Legal advice

You should seek legal advice before deciding what to do. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and explain how the law applies to your case. A lawyer can also help you reach an agreement without going to court.

Contact Us

At Fuentes Legal, we believe in helping you craft a future that maximises the best interests of the children and balances both parent’s needs. Contact us today for assistance by email at admin@fuenteslegal.com.au or 0406 111 992

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