Parenting orders Family Law Act are orders made by the court about childcare arrangements. The Court can make parenting orders either based on existing arrangements or consent orders or after a court trial or hearing. The agreements of the two parties are usually made into consent orders.
If two parties cannot reach an agreement, they can approach the court for parenting orders. The Family Law Act 1975 deals with parenting orders. The family court must consider the child’s best interests when making a parenting order.
Section 65A of the Act deals with applying for parenting orders Family Law Act and general obligations created in parenting orders. No two families are alike and every family is unique when it comes to making childcare arrangements or applying for parenting orders. This article will discuss the parenting orders Family Law Act.
Section 65AA: The Child’s Best Interests
Here are the two primary considerations when talking about the child’s best interests in making parenting orders:
- The benefit of the child from having a healthy and meaningful relationship with both parents
- The benefit of the child receiving protection from physical or psychological harm, abuse, or neglect.
Section 65B: Excluding Child Maintenance Orders
Family law courts do not make parenting orders to the extent that they will consist of child maintenance orders. Child maintenance orders are orders where a court will require a parent to provide child support to a child who is over 18. Adult children can receive child maintenance if they:
- Need financial assistance to complete their further studies (college, trainings, vocational courses)
- Are mentally and physically incapable of continuing their studies.
Section 65C: Who Can Apply For A Parenting Order?
Anyone of the following people can apply to the Court for parenting orders Family Law Act under Section 65C of the Family Law Act:
- The child
- Any person concerned with the care, welfare, and development of a child
The Court follows certain criteria for determining who is a person concerned with a child’s care, welfare, and development. For instance, a stepparent, aunt, or uncle may be granted leave to bring an application.
Parenting orders Family Law Act cases will be determined by facts presented at court, as well as the strength of the individual’s concern for the child’s care and welfare. The court may likely declare a person who is concerned with the care, welfare, and development of the child if that person:
- Has been the primary caregiver of the child
- Has spent significant and substantial time with the child throughout their lives
- Has brought back an application due to concerns about potential harm to a child
Section 65D: Family Law Courts Making Parenting Orders
The court will presume that equal shared parental responsibility is in the best interests of the child unless there is family violence or abuse involved. However, courts may grant sole parental responsibility to one parent or another party if there is family violence or abuse involved. Courts may also vary, suspend, or revive some or all versions of a parenting order if there is a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility.
Section 65DAA: Child’s Time With His/Her Parents
The court always makes sure that parents can come to an agreement about equal shared parenting since this is in the child’s best interests. But in some cases, some parents may receive sole parental responsibility if the other parent is unfit for equal shared parental responsibility.
Equal shared responsibility is where two parents will make major life decisions for their child. On the other hand, sole parental responsibility allows a parent to make major life decisions for the child without the other parent’s consent. Some of these major life decisions commonly include:
- School arrangements
- Medical arrangements
- Who the children will live with
- When and how the child will spend his/her time with parents
- Communication and changeover arrangements with the other parent
1. Equal Time
Firstly, courts will consider whether the child spending equal time with each parent is in the best interests of the child when making parenting orders Family Law Act. They may also consider whether this choice is practicable. If yes, the court may consider making an order to provide the child with equal time with each parent.
2. Substantial and Significant Time
Secondly, courts may make parenting orders Family Law Act where the child’s parents will have equal shared parental responsibility for their child. This results in the child having substantial and significant time with each of his/her parents. Although they must see to it if this is in the child’s best interests. A child will only spend substantial and significant time with a parent if:
- The time that the child spends with the parent includes weekends and holidays and days that do not fall on weekends and holidays.
- The time the child spends with the parents allows the parent to involve themselves in the child’s daily routine and occasions and events that are important to the child.
When deciding whether equal time or substantial and essential time is best for the child, courts will consider the following:
- The distance between the parent’s house if they live separately
- The parent’s current and future capacity to set an arrangement for the child to spend equal or substantial and essential time
- Both parents’ capacity to communicate with each other and resolve issues that may arise when implementing parenting arrangements (paying child support, major medical bills, change of schools)
- Any other factors that the court may consider relevant. For instance, there are lodged family violence orders
Courts will only consider making parenting orders Family Law Act with the consent of all parties involved in the court proceedings. Parties may agree to the court through consent orders.
Section 65DAB: Parenting Plans
When making a parenting order the court must consider the terms of the most recent parenting plan. Parenting plans are agreements about parenting arrangements that the parents made outside the court. Courts may include any terms or conditions from the parenting plan into the parenting order if it is in the child’s best interests.
Section 65DAC: Parenting Orders About Shared Parental Responsibility
Parenting orders around equal shared parental responsibility encourage parents to make joint decisions about major long-term issues for their children. This also orders parents to:
- Consult with each other in relation to making decisions about major-long term issues
- Make a genuine effort in reaching an agreement about major long term-issues
Section 65DAE: Consultation About Minor Issues
According to Section 65DAE, there is no need for parents to consult with the other parent about non-major-long term issues or minor issues. People won’t need to consult with others who have parental responsibility for the child for minor issues. Additionally, people won’t have to consult with the other parent for minor issues if they share parental responsibility with them. Here are some examples of minor issues:
- When, where, and what the child will eat
- When and where the child will sleep
- What the child will wear
How JB Solicitors’ Family Dispute Resolution Can Help
Parenting orders may escalate into legal issues when parents want more time and rights to make decisions for the child. Some parents may also feel distraught with the result of childcare arrangements and believe that it is not in the child’s best interests.
Hence, JB Solicitors can help clear up any misunderstandings and confusion revolving around parenting orders. Our family lawyers ensure that all decisions on parenting orders are in the child’s best interests. We also have a family dispute resolution method like mediation services for parties who want out-of-court agreements.
Contact a family dispute resolution practitioner today for more information about parenting orders and the Family Law Act.