Asset 9 transparent logo


Parenting Orders and Family Law in Australia: An Overview

It is no surprise that divorces are traumatic, especially when little children are involved. However, although you and your spouse did not get along, your commitment to your child should not cease.

This is where parenting orders come in. Parenting orders are one type of order that the court can make.

Parenting orders set out the arrangements for the care of children, including who the children will live with, who they will spend time with and who will make decisions about their welfare.

Parenting Orders Explained

Parenting orders are some of the most important topics regarding family law in Australia. Understanding how parenting orders can impact your situation if you are going through a divorce or separation is helpful.

Parenting orders are legal documents that outline the rights and responsibilities of parents when it comes to their children. In Australia, parenting orders can be made by either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court.

The topics cover:

  • Who a child will live with.
  • Who has responsibility for making decisions about the child’s welfare.
  • How much time the child will spend with each parent.
  • Whether one parent can take the child out of the country.
  • Arrangements for communication between the child and each parent.
  • The financial support that each parent is responsible for providing.
  • Any other matters related to the care and welfare of the child.

Parenting orders can be made in the case of unmarried parents, same-sex couples and grandparents in Australian family law.

How to Make Parenting Orders

Parenting orders are usually made following a court proceeding. However, it is also possible to make parenting orders by agreement between the parties. These are known as consent orders.

If you are going to court to make parenting orders, the court will take into account many factors, including:

  • The wishes of the child.
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and other significant people in the child’s life.
  • The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm.
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the needs of the child.
  • The child’s views and preferences (if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age and maturity).
  • The likely effect of changes in the child’s circumstances, including any proposed move to a new home.
  • The capacity of each parent to communicate and cooperate with the other parent in making decisions about the child.
  • Whether one parent has been abusive or violent towards the other parent or the child.
  • Whether one parent has committed any criminal offences.
  • Any other relevant factors.

The court will also consider relevant international conventions, such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Enforcing Parenting Orders

It is not always easy to ensure that parenting orders are adhered to. In some cases, one parent may deliberately disobey a court order in an attempt to spite the other parent, disrupt the child custody or simply become forgetful or have difficulty complying with the terms of the order. 

Whatever the reason, it is essential to know what options are available if you need to enforce a parenting order.

What Should You Do If You Can’t Come to an Agreement?

The first step is to try and resolve the matter amicably with the other parent. If this is not possible, you can apply to the court for an enforcement order under the Australian family law. An enforcement order can make the disobedient parent do (or stop doing) something they are required to do (or not do) under a parenting order.

The court can also impose sanctions on a parent who disobeys a court order. Sanctions can include requiring the parent to pay the other parent’s legal costs or ordering the parent to attend a parenting program. In serious cases, the court can even order the parent to be imprisoned for up to 3 months.

Furthermore, the court could make orders different from what you had initially requested. Therefore, it is crucial that you are prepared for this possibility and that you seek legal advice from experts in Australian family law before making any applications to the court.

Breach of Parenting Orders

There is a breach if you don’t follow a parenting order. And there can be serious consequences if you breach (go against) a parenting order. The different types of breaches include:

  • Failing to comply with the order.
  • Stopping the other parent from spending time with the children.
  • Taking the children out of Australia without the other parent’s consent.

It is also a breach if you stop the other parent from communicating with the children unless there are reasonable grounds, such as concerns about domestic violence.

What Can Happen If I Breach a Parenting Order?

If you breach a parenting order, you can be found in contempt of court. The consequences of being found in contempt of court can include:

  • A fine.
  • Jail time.
  • Your name is put on the public register.

How Do Parents Come to an Agreement?

There is no one answer to this question as every family situation is unique. However, there are some common ways that parents agree to child custody or parental arrangements. These include:

  • Talking through the issues together and trying to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Seeking help from a mediator or counsellor.
  • Attending parenting education courses.
  • Seeking legal advice from a child custody lawyer who can assist you in understanding your rights and responsibilities under family law.

Parenting Orders and Family Violence or Child Abuse

Parenting orders can also address family violence or child abuse. If there are concerns that a parent may be abusive or pose a risk to the safety of the children, the court can make orders that restrict their contact with the children or place other conditions on their parenting. In cases of severe abuse, the court may even order that the children be removed from the abusive parent’s care altogether.

How Madison Marcus Can Help You

Madison Marcus is a specialist in parenting orders and family law. We have the experience and expertise to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

We want what’s best for you and your family and will fight tirelessly to ensure you get it. We know that these cases can be complex, but as child custody lawyers, we are here to support you every step of the way.

For all enquiries or a free 15-minute consultation,contact us here.


Follow Us

Subscribe to our newsletter