What is a parenting order according to the Family Law Act 1975? After a divorce, parents must make new parenting arrangements since a divorced life will change their family dynamic. Courts may make a parenting order if parties agree on a parenting arrangement through consent orders. Even if parties continue to disagree, the court may still make a parenting order but only after a court hearing.
According to Section 65DA of the Act, the court has the duty to include the obligations that the parenting order creates. Moreover, the court should also include consequences if either party is to breach the parenting order. The court also has the following obligations if parties don’t have legal representation:
- Explain the availability of parenting programs. These parenting programs can help parties understand their responsibilities in the parenting order
- Explain the availability of location and recovery orders. These orders are used to bring back children who were illegally relocated or abducted.
If parties have a legal practitioner, the legal practitioner is responsible for explaining these obligations to their client. Courts or legal practitioners should also explain these obligations in a language that their clients will understand. Read on to know more about what is a parenting order and relevant sections of the Family Law Act.
Section 65F: General Requirements for Family Counselling
Parties to a divorce with children involved are required to attend family counselling before a court makes a parenting order. Family counselling is beneficial for families who are having difficulties communicating and reaching agreements with each other. Family counselling addresses a range of behavioural and psychological problems including:
- Marriage and relationship conflict
- Parent-child conflict
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Family violence
- Eating disorders
- Children’s behavioural problems
- Caring for the elderly
What Is a Parenting Order: Immediate Need for a Parenting Order
Courts are satisfied that there is an immediate need to make a parenting order under special circumstances like family violence. So, for instance, some parties won’t need to attend a family counselling conference if there is family violence involved in their case. The family court will only draft a parenting order with the consent of all parties.
Section 65G: Special Conditions for Making Parenting Orders
What is a parenting order and its special conditions? According to Section 65G, these special conditions are where a child will live and the allocation of parental responsibility. These two terms are closely related since the child will most likely live with the parent with parental responsibility.
In some cases, the child can still live with the parent without parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is a type of responsibility where a parent gets to make major long-term decisions for his/her child. Equal shared parental responsibility is upheld for married or divorced couples as much as possible.
What Is a Parenting Order: Sole Parental Responsibility
A parent with sole parental responsibility won’t need to consult with the other parent about major long-term decisions for his/her child. Parents can receive sole parental responsibility for their child if the other parent is violent or abusive. Take note that parental responsibility is not the same as child custody or visitation since the person without parental responsibility can still:
- Visit his/her child with or without supervision. Violent and abusive parents can visit their children under strict supervision.
- Spend time with the child
- Suggest arrangements in parenting plans
Courts will always consider equal shared parental responsibility especially if they see that both parents focus on their child’s best interests. Section 60CC of the Family Law Act outlines the primary considerations of the child’s best interests.
Section 65H and 65J: When Does a Parenting Order Stop Taking Effect?
When talking about ‘what is a parenting order’, it’s also important to know when a parenting order stops taking effect. According to Section 65H and 65J, parenting orders stop taking effect if the child:
- Is 18 or over
- Married or has been married before or during the proceedings
- Is in a de facto relationship
- Is adopted.
Section 65K: What if a Parent With Whom the Child Lives Passes Away?
When talking about what is a parenting order, it’s important to talk about what happens if a parent whom a child lives with passes away. If parties to a divorce are prepared for such unforeseen circumstances, they may appoint another eligible person who the child will live with.
But what happens if they had not appointed such a guardian whom the child will live with in case the original parent dies? The child cannot live with the surviving parent as the parent may not have custody or parental responsibility over the child.
Instead, the surviving parent will have to apply for a new parenting order to the court for new arrangements. The court will then decide if it is in the child’s best interests to live with the surviving parent. If not, they may appoint the child to live with a person or relative who is concerned with the child’s welfare.
Section 65L and 65LA: Family Consultants’ Supervision and Assistance
According to Section 65L, courts may order family consultants to supervise or assist parties in complying with parenting orders. Family consultants are people who conduct family interviews for disputed family members. They then draft a family report and submit it to the court to help the judge of a family law case make decisions.
After making a decision, courts may sometimes order a party to attend post-separation programs. This is mentioned in Section 65LA. However, courts must first seek advice from a family consultant before they decide to send a party to parenting programs. Each family has different circumstances and a family consultant will know which specific parenting program a parent/party will need.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice From Family Lawyers
This article has discussed what a parenting order is and showed how parenting orders might lead to family disputes. Hence, it’s important to seek legal advice from JB Solicitors, as our lawyers are knowledgeable about parenting orders and family dispute resolution.
We have mediation services for disputed parties who want out-of-court settlements and legally binding outcomes for their family law matters.
Do you have other questions similar to what is a parenting order? Contact us today for your first consultation.