Navigating the complexities of family law, particularly when it comes to the welfare of children, can be a challenging endeavour. In Australia, once a parenting order has been established, there may come a time when one or both parties seek to modify its terms. Here's a look at the process and grounds for varying a parenting order in the country.
1. Understanding Parenting Orders: Parenting orders are legal decrees that dictate how parents should care for and make decisions concerning their children. They can cover a multitude of aspects, such as who the child lives with, the time they spend with the other parent, and other significant childcare decisions.
Initiate Discussions: Before heading to court, it's always beneficial if both parties can communicate their concerns and potentially reach a new agreement. Mediation services can be an invaluable resource during this phase.
Application to the Court: If an agreement isn't reached, the next step is applying to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court for a variation. The applicant will have to provide specific documents and complete necessary forms, such as an 'Application in a Case' form.
Affidavit: The person seeking the change will need to submit an affidavit. This document should detail the reasons for the request and provide evidence supporting the claim.
Court Hearing: Once the application is processed, the court sets a date for the hearing. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case, after which the court will make its decision.
To successfully vary a parenting order, the court must be convinced that there's been a significant change in circumstances since the last order was made, or that it's in the child's best interest to alter the order. Common grounds include:
Change in Circumstances: This could relate to relocation (one parent moving to a different state or country), changes in the child's health or wellbeing, or alterations in either parent's living or financial conditions.
Best Interests of the Child: The primary consideration for any variation is always the child's best interests. If it's determined that the child's welfare, safety, or psychological health is at risk under the current order, it may be varied.
Inability to Comply: If unforeseen circumstances arise that make it impossible for one or both parties to adhere to the original order, this can be a valid ground for variation.
Consent of Both Parties: If both parents agree on changing the terms of the order, the court is likely to approve the variation, provided it's in the child's best interests.
Varying a parenting order in Australia is not a straightforward process. However, understanding the grounds and steps involved is crucial. Always remember, the overarching principle guiding any decision in this realm is the welfare and best interests of the child. If you're considering varying a parenting order, it's advisable to seek legal advice to navigate the intricacies of the system.