Changing Parenting Orders in Australia: A Guide for Parents
Umbrella Family Law • September 19, 2023
Parenting orders are legal agreements that determine the arrangements for children after separation or divorce. However, as time passes, circumstances can change, and the parenting arrangements may no longer be suitable or in the best interests of the children. In such cases, parents may need to change the parenting order. Here is a guide to help you understand the steps required to change a parenting order in Australia.
Step 1: Attempt to resolve the dispute
Before seeking a formal change to a parenting order, parents are encouraged to try to resolve any issues or disputes between themselves. This may involve discussing the concerns and negotiating a new parenting arrangement. If parents are unable to reach an agreement, they may need to consider mediation or dispute resolution services.
Step 2: Seek legal advice
If parents are unable to resolve the dispute, they may need to seek legal advice from a family law specialist. The Family Court decided in Rice and Asplund (1979) that. where the Court has already made final orders, they will not vary them unless a significant change in circumstances has occurred, such that the previous orders are no longer in the child’s best interests. A lawyer can provide information about the legal process, the requirements for changing a parenting order, and the likelihood of success. They can also help prepare the necessary paperwork.
Step 3: File an application
To change a parenting order, parents must file an application with the court. The application must include details of the existing parenting order, the proposed changes, and the reasons why the changes are necessary. The application must also be supported by an affidavit (a written statement of facts) that outlines the reasons for the proposed changes.
Step 4: Attend a family dispute resolution conference
Before the court hearing, parents must attend a family dispute resolution conference. This is a meeting with an independent mediator who will attempt to help parents resolve the dispute and reach an agreement. If the dispute cannot be resolved, the mediator will issue a certificate, which is required before the case can proceed to court.
Step 5: Attend a court hearing
If the dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, the case will proceed to court. At the court hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their case and provide evidence. The judge will consider the evidence and make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the children.
Step 6: Obtain a new parenting order
If the court determines that a change to the parenting order is necessary, a new parenting order will be issued. The new order will outline the new parenting arrangements, including who the children will live with, how much time they will spend with each parent, and any other specific arrangements.
Changing a parenting order can be a complicated and emotional process. It is important to seek legal advice and try to resolve any disputes before filing an application with the court. The court will always consider what is in the best interests of the children when making a decision, so it is important to focus on the children’s needs and wellbeing throughout the process.
For more information head to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website here.
If you require assistance with changing a parenting order or have any other family law concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Umbrella Family Law for expert legal advice and support.