Child Parenting Orders

Frequently Asked Questions

Parenting Orders are formal arrangements made by the Court that deal with the arrangements for a child or children when parents have separated. Following separation, Parenting Orders can be made by agreement between the parties by way of ‘Consent Orders’, or after a Court hearing.

In making Parenting Orders, the Court takes into consideration the best interests of the child/children.

Parenting Orders can cover:

  • Who the child/children live with;
  • Who the child/children spend time and communicate with;
  • Any other issues relevant to the care of the child/children, such as schooling and medical treatment.

Do not get caught out! There is a difference between a Parenting Plan and a Parenting Order. Although a Parenting Plan may be tendered to a Court as evidence, it is not a legally enforceable agreement. We can advise you on how to make your Parenting Plan into an agreement that can be enforced by the Courts if it is breached.

I have parenting orders, but the other party isn’t complying. What can I do?

A parenting plan is a voluntary agreement between the parties that concerns the parenting of a child.  It must be written, signed and dated.  A parenting plan can cover the same issues as parenting orders might, such as who the child will live with and who will have parental responsibility for the child. Parties other than the parents, such as grandparents, can be included in a parenting plan.

Parenting plans are not legally enforceable, while parenting orders are. You can apply to court for a breach of parenting orders but not for a breach of a parenting plan. Parties may apply to have their parenting plan made into parenting orders by consent.

A parenting plan made after a parenting order will generally override the parenting order. If the parties have a parenting plan and seek parenting orders, the court will consider the parenting plan when deciding what terms might be in the best interests of the child.

Can I get parenting orders if I am I not the child’s parent?

It is possible for people who are not the parents of child to obtain parenting orders.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, a sibling, or a family member other than a child’s parent may apply for parenting orders as kinship carers.  Kinship carers provide primary care for a child when a child’s parents are unable to care for their child.  This may be temporarily or permanently.

Kinship carers can seek parenting orders for all the same issues as parents, such as time spent with the carer or the ability to communicate with them.

Parents may also provide for people who are important to their child, such as grandparents, in any agreement they reach.  Other parties such as grandparents can also make their own agreements about parenting with the parents of a child.

I’ve heard about parenting plans. How are they different to parenting orders?

The family law system often emphasises non-litigious solutions.  Parents are encouraged to work through their issues together and come to their own solutions, even after orders have already been made.  If your orders permit, you are encouraged to co-parent and resolve issues so that you can both care for your child.  You may reach an agreement privately, or with the help of services such as legal advice or family dispute resolution.

However, we understand this can often be hard after court.  Proceedings can be long, costly and inflame tensions between separating parents.  If you are unable to resolve your differences together, you may apply for a breach of the parenting orders.  The court will then determine if there has been a breach, the severity of it, and what should be done to remedy the breach.  The court may vary or revoke your current parenting orders if they find the breach is serious enough.

Questions? Ask our Family Law team.

Annabel Tee
03 9870 9870