Parenting orders are a set of orders finalised by the court which detail the parenting arrangements for a child or children. They can be made either by consent or after a court hearing/trial.
The arrangements that parenting orders deal with include where the child is to live, the time the child will spend with each parent or other people (grandparents etc.), the responsibility of the parents and any other important aspect of their welfare, care and development.
An Application for parenting orders can be made on behalf of either or both parents, a grandparent, or any other person concerned for the child’s welfare. Before an application can be accepted by the court, the parties are required to attend compulsory Family Dispute Resolution to attempt to come to an agreement. If however the child is subject to abuse, family violence or any other circumstance which may require an urgent assessment, an application can be made straight away.
When the court is determining parenting orders, it is required to consider the best interests of the child and apply the presumption that equal shared responsibility for the child is in their best interest.
During proceedings, the court may appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) to independently represent the child and their wishes. There are a number of factors which prompt the requirement for an ICL but is most common when there is abuse, or the child’s interests are not adequately represented by one of the parties etc. Prior parenting agreements will be taken into account by the court when determining orders.
When parenting orders are made by the court, they are enforceable in a number of ways whereas a Parenting Plan is not.
There are a number of other processes involved in making an application for parenting orders but these may not apply to everyone’s circumstances. If you are unsure, you can seek legal advice for further information.