Parenting orders: What obligations do I have?

Date: Feb 18, 2016

Raising children can be a stressful experience, which can be compounded if you are, for example, in the midst of a separation. Even with an experienced divorce lawyer, having to juggle your own interests and those of your child while dealing with other parties can be difficult.

In cases where arrangements between parents cannot be resolved, the Courts may make a parenting order. What responsibilities and obligations can a parenting order entail for the parties?

What is a parenting order?

As the definition suggests, a parenting order deals with various arrangements in relation to the parenting of the child or children in question. The courts may make a parenting order either based on an agreement between the parties (i.e. consent order) or as a result of court proceedings. Importantly, once a court order comes into effect, all parties impacted by it must act in accordance with the terms of the order.

Additionally, once a parenting order becomes effective, it remains in place until a new order is made, either by consent of the parties or by the court itself. The parties can also vary the arrangements set out in a parenting order by agreeing on and formally executing a set of terms called a Parenting Plan.

If you have an order in place with respect to your children that you feel needs to be changed or renegotiated, it is imperative that you seek family law advice from an experienced lawyer.

A parenting order may address a number of issues, the main ones being as follows:

  • The parents' responsibility for decision-making with respect to various aspects of the child's life;
  • The child's living arrangements;
  • Communication between parents about child-related issues;

The Court's primary concern when issuing a parenting order is the best interests of the child, including as expressed by the child himself/herself if he/she is mature enough to do so.

Parenting orders and parental obligations

The Family Law Act 1975  makes it clear that parents have a joint responsibility to care for their children until the age of 18. This responsibility is not impacted or changed by events such as separation, remarriage or parental conflict, unless orders are made by the court reallocating parental responsibility.

Once an order is made, parents must follow its terms. There are serious consequences and penalties for breaching a parenting order.

The parents should also facilitate the implementation of the orders. For example, if an order outlines that the children are to spend time with another party, such as a parent or grandparent, you must not only make sure that the children are available but also actively promote and encourage them to spend time with these other persons significant in their lives.

If you would like to know more about the obligations you have to a parenting order, talk to Craddock Murray Neumann Lawyers today.