A de facto partner who has a child with a former partner may apply for a parenting order from the court. The procedure is the same that is being followed by married persons.
A parenting order is issued by the court upon application pertaining to the following matters:
The paramount consideration is the child’s best interest. There are two primary considerations under the Family Law Act. First is the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents. This creates the presumption that equal shared parental responsibility is to the child’s best interest.
This presumption is overthrown if the second consideration is not met which is the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm or being exposed or subjected to abuse, neglect or family violence. There are additional considerations enumerated in the FLA but basically it all comes down to the court making arrangements that are in the child’s best interests.
A hearing will be conducted. A family consultant may be appointed by the court upon its own suggestion or upon application of the parties. The consultant will interview the concerned parties and assess the relationship of the child with each of the significant persons in his life. Then the consultant will prepare a report for the court. In making a decision the court will also take into consideration the consultant’s findings.
In complicated parenting cases an Independent Children’s Lawyer may even be appointed by the court.
A certificate of birth is necessary which proves that the de facto partner is the parent of the child. The partners first have to undergo a family dispute resolution (FDR) to see if they can agree on the issue of parenting arrangements. If the parties do not agree, a certification from the FDR must be attached to the application. The application may be filed with the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court.
Affidavits of the applicant and witnesses must also be attached to the application. The affidavits must contain allegations that support the existence of the de facto relationship, that there was a child from the relationship and the arrangements that the party would like the court to order.