Project Description

Parenting and Children Matters

Parenting and Children Matters

If you have children under 18 you may need to have a Parenting Order. This often happens when parents separate or divorce, but can also be used if there is a dispute about who should look after your child or if your a child is unable to be cared for by their parents.

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As a Fairfield Family Law Accredited Specialist, John Odisho Putrus can help you:

  • Understand what your rights are.
  • Make a Parenting Order application for you.
  • Help you prepare for a Parenting Order hearing.
  • Represent you in a Parenting Order hearing.
  • Determine if you can apply to enforce a Parenting Order.

Parenting Orders

A Parenting Order is an order made by the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and deals with the parenting of a child. These are often made when the children’s parents separate or divorce, but can also be made at other times.

Anyone who is concerned about the welfare or development of a child can apply for a Parenting Order. This may include one of their parents, a grandparent, the child themselves or someone else. Parenting Orders can deal with a variety of different issues including:

  • Who’ll be responsible for making major decisions about the child’s health, religious or cultural upbringing, name or education.
  • Where the child will live.

  • Who the child will live with.
  • When a child can spend time with or communicate with their parent or someone else.
  • Who can collect a child or drop them when they’re changing over custody.

  • What happens when a child has been taken by someone who doesn’t have permission to.
  • Who is responsible for making child maintenance payments.

Before a Parenting Order Application can be made you must be able to show that you have made a genuine effort to reach an agreement. This may involve attending Family Dispute Resolution. A Parenting Order Application is then only made when you can’t reach an agreement between yourselves unless the situation is urgent. For example, if there has been family violence then you can apply for an urgent hearing date.

Once a Parenting Order is made everyone must comply with it. If someone doesn’t, then an enforcement application may be made and the Court may impose a penalty on the person who breaches the Order.

What the Court Considers

When making a Parenting Order, the Court must consider the best interests of the child.

This means they must consider:

  • How the child will benefit from having a meaningful relationship with both of its parents; and
  • The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm that may occur if they’re subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.

The Court must also take into account other factors like:

  • What the child wants.
  • The child’s relationship with each of their parents.
  • How each parent can provide for the child.
  • If the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, then their right to enjoy their culture.
  • If there is any Family Violence Order involving the child or their family.

When making a Parenting Order, the Court must first assume that it’s in the best interests of the child for their parents to have equal shared responsibility for them unless there are reasonable grounds that a parent or person living with a parent has abused a child or been violent to a member of their family. The Court may then see evidence that goes against this assumption.

The Court may have a number of hearings before they make their final decision. This may involve hearing from experts like psychologists or medical professionals. Sometimes the Court may appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer who represents the best interests of the child. They may also make interim Parenting Orders that apply until their final decision.

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