the process of making parenting arrangements
Parenting arrangements are for the benefit of the child and not the parents. The primary consideration by the court and the parents should be the best interest of the child.
Couples who divorce or separate are required to make parenting arrangements for their children. The arrangements may be the subject of an agreement between the parents. However, if the parents cannot come to an agreement then either of them may apply to the court for a parenting order.
Section 64B of the Family Law Act 1975 provides the proper subject for a parenting order but these matters may also be the terms and conditions in a parenting plan or agreement. The following are the arrangements that must be made for a child whether through a court order or an agreement:
- Child maintenance or financial support if the child is not covered under the Child Support Assessment Act;
- The person with whom the child shall live;
- Whether the parents are to equally spend time with the child or a parent will spend substantial and significant time with the child;
- How the parents will consult each other in making decisions about the child;
- Who among the significant persons (e.g. grandparents, relatives) can spend time or communicate with the child and how;
- Provisions to accommodate the changing needs and circumstances of the child or the parents
- and the process that the parties must follow before they go to court should they want to vary an order;
How to resolve disputes that arise from the terms or operation of the court order; and
Other aspects that pertain to the care, welfare and development of the child and other matters that are connected with parental responsibility.
The family court cannot hear an application for a parenting order unless there is attached to the application a certification from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner. A family dispute resolution is a pre-action procedure that parties must undergo before the court will admit their application. The parties must make a genuine effort to settle their dispute before going to court.
The pre-action procedure applies for first time applications for parenting orders as well as to parties who apply to the court for variation of existing orders.
Who can go to court and ask for parenting orders?
- Either or both parents of the child;
- The child;
- The grandparent; or
- Any other person who is interested in the care, welfare and development of the child.
The best interests of the child is the paramount consideration whenever making parenting arrangements through a court order or by agreement of the parents. Every arrangement made must be to promote the best interest of the child and anything to the contrary will have to be discarded.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.