Parenting orders can cover many issues and may be applied for by a parent, grandparent, child, or any other person concerned with the child’s best interests.
Parenting orders can be made about any child who is in Australia at the time of the application for orders or who is or whose parent is an Australian citizen or regularly living in Australia, with the exception of children who were born to a married couple or are under the care and protection of a child welfare law. International cases may be considered if there is a treaty or private international law that permits an Australian court to be involved.
Most separation agreements are made official through orders by consent, which means the parents agreed to the terms in the order, which was then enforced by the court. Consent orders can be made after the case has gotten underway in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court.
They can also be made before the case has gotten underway in the Family Court, unless the orders would conflict with a family violence order, involve a situation where the child is living with and being cared for by someone other than a parent or relative, or are not considered acceptable by the court.
You can apply for a consent order by speaking at a hearing in court, by giving a draft consent order to a judge at court, or by filing an application. The court has to be informed of any risks to the children involved, including any abuse or violent acts in the family. The court must always prioritize the child’s well-being, and must make decisions on consent orders based on what is in the child’s best interest.
When parents want to make changes to court orders, and they are in agreement about the changes, they can always apply for a variation of the orders, or they can agree upon a parenting plan, but the orders need to be updated to prevent either parent from being accused of breaching the orders of the court. If one parent wants to make changes and the other does not, the parent can apply to the court to make the changes using an Initiating Application.
Other types of parenting orders include final orders, which are made at a trial, Interim orders, which are temporary, and ex parte orders, which are made in the absence of one of the parents. Interlocutory orders can also be used; these are short-term and have an immediate purpose, such as parent testing, child locating and recovery, and living arrangements. There can also be orders of injunction, to stop another person’s actions, and orders to change or cancel earlier orders.
If one of the parties involved in a case does not show up to court, and there is an urgent need for the hearing to take place without the other party present, “ex parte” orders can be given. You would need to specify on your application to the court that you want the orders to be made on an ex parte basis, explaining the circumstances that justify the request, and the court will decide whether or not to approve the application. If a request is not made, but one party does not show up for a hearing, the court can decide on the next orders to make, or can dismiss the proceedings.
A parent can apply to the court to order the other parent to have supervision during visits with the child. The application must include thorough information about the circumstances, along with a detailed supervision proposal. When supervised visits are ordered by the court, it is often a temporary situation, as the parent is given the opportunity to earn the right to unsupervised visits. Read more
In cases when one parent has taken the child somewhere without the other parent’s knowledge of where, there are several safeguards that can help. A location order requires a person who has knowledge of the child’s whereabouts to provide the information to the court. Read more
The first time you go to court to discuss the issues between you and your estranged partner, the judicial officer will try to help you both sort out your differences and find solutions to your conflicts. Sometimes, a solution can be found immediately. If not, you may be referred to a family consultant or other family services. Read more
An interim hearing is held when there are matters that need to be resolved before the case is fully prepared for a final hearing. The court needs to use a slightly different method to rule on parenting issues in interim hearings, as there is not enough time for a thorough assessment of what is best for the child, and all the evidence is not yet available.
Proposals, issues of dispute, and relevant facts are presented by all parties at an interim hearing. Things that can be decided are whether the parents should share responsibility for the child, whether they should have equal time with the child, and other issues concerning what is in the child’s best interest.
Since there is not an extensive amount of investigation, assessment, and time put into an interim hearing, the parties need to do their best in their application to detail the most important considerations that the court could feasibly deal with in this context. Equal shared parental responsibility is presumed in an interim order unless there is enough reason for the court to deem it inappropriate.