Following a separation, parents will often have questions such as who will the children live with, who will have the responsibility for making certain long term decisions, and how the children will be financially supported. If you and your former partner cannot reach an agreement regarding the future arrangements for your children, either party can apply to the Family Court for a parenting order. Parenting orders can also be obtained by other family members such as Grandparents.
However, before either party is able to file an application in the Family Court, you must first obtain a s60I certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner stating that you have both attended mediation and attempted to come to an agreement.
When making parenting orders, the Court must be satisfied that the orders you ask for are in the best interest of the child. A parenting order made by the Court can cover one or more of the following issues:
- How the parents share parenting responsibility for the child
- Who the child should live with
- How much time the child will spend with each parent
- How special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas and New Year’s will be shared
- What communication the child will have with their parent they do not live with
- Changing or varying previous orders
- Any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or parenting responsibility for the child
Parties can also elect to attend mediation and prepare a ‘parenting plan’ however this document is not legally binding and cannot be enforced by the court if one of the parties breaches the agreement. If you want your parenting plan to be binding, then you will need to seek to formalise your agreement by applying for consent orders in the Family Court.