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Parenting Agreements: Part 2- Parenting Orders

Nov 24, 2017

A parenting order, as noted in our article Parenting Agreements: Part 1 – Parenting Plans, is a legally binding and enforceable order of a Family Law Court. As with parenting plans, the best interest of the child is paramount.

The subject matter of a final parenting order has largely been considered under our Part 1 article. In general, a final parenting order may deal with matters such as primary caregiver status and shared cared, parental responsibility, the time and communication a child has with each parent (e.g., regular time, holiday time, special occasions, telephone and other electronic forms of communication), specific issues (e.g., medical and educational matters), and dispute resolution processes.

Aside from the binding and enforceable nature of parenting orders, another noticeable difference in terms of the actual subject matter is often apparent in interim orders sought and interim orders made.  Interim parenting orders must be sought with final parenting orders when a party to a parenting dispute files an Initiating Application for (Parenting) Orders, or a respondent files their response. Interim parenting orders cannot be sought in an Application for Consent Orders. Interim orders sought and made by a court are a product of litigation processes being commenced by Initiating Application.

Interim orders may deal with orders that a party wishes to have addressed in the short-term, prior to final orders being made. For example one or both parties may seek orders for a family report, an independent children’s lawyer, supervision of parent-child contact, and/or drug testing. Interim orders may also be sought for recovery of a child, location of a parent, Commonwealth Information Orders, substituted service upon a party and watchlist orders. This list is not exhaustive.

A party may also seek numerous interim orders for the short term and no long-term orders, with one order sought under the Final Orders Sought section that, for example, the Applicant or Respondent “seeks leave to file final orders at a later date pending the outcome of a family report or as otherwise deemed appropriate by the court”.* This is because one or both parties may not know what long-term orders they want at this early stage in proceedings.

Whether orders are made by way of an Application for Consent Orders or an Initiating Application which initiates court proceedings, each method of seeking parenting orders, once orders are made, results in legally binding and enforceable orders. The consequences of breaching a Court order are serious and several. These include having a court vary the primary order, or ordering the breaching party to attend a post separation parenting program, compensate the other parent for time lost with a child, enter into a bond, pay all or some of the legal costs of the other party, participate in community service, pay a fine, and even to serve and actual sentence of imprisonment (suspended sentences may also be imposed) for the breach and/or contempt of court.

See our article Application Contravention for a more detailed discussion of filing an Application Contravention and, for respondents, defending an Application Contravention.

*This example of an order is not intended as a preferable drafting of such an order.

Contact us

Contact Davoren Associates to discuss your circumstances. Our team of dedicated professionals are happy to assist you through this area of law. We aim to make the process as simple as possible whilst ensuring you have received comprehensive legal advice specific to your individual Family Law needs.

If you would like further information or wish to schedule an initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us on (07) 5575 2844. Our Family Law team will be only too happy to assist you with all your needs.