IMPORTANT NOTE: the cut off date for making an application to the Family Court to have your matter dealt with in time for Christmas 2015 is Friday 13 November. Read all the details here.
When Orders are made by the Family Law Court regarding the care and living arrangements of children they are based on the known circumstances of the parties and the children at that time. As we all know, those circumstances can change.
Once Parenting Orders are made by the court they cannot be changed unless both parties consent to the change or the court determines it is appropriate to change the Order. For the court to change an Order it must be satisfied that there has been a significant change in circumstances. In parenting matters the paramount consideration is the best interests of the child. Given this, the court is reluctant to re-open parenting matters and put children through further litigation unless there is good reason to do so.
In the case Rice v Asplund (1979) final Parenting Orders were made by the court for a three year old child to live with the father. Nine months after the Orders were made the mother applied to the court to vary the Orders, seeking for the child to live with her and spend time with the father.
Since the earlier Parenting Order was made, the mother had obtained stable accommodation and also remarried. Further to this the child was due to commence school. The court assessed that the change in the mother’s circumstances combined with the fact that the child was about to commence school, was a sufficient change to justify varying the previous Order. The court went on to state that given this significant change the previous Orders were ‘unworkable and unrealistic’. The mother’s application to review the Orders was therefore granted.
"If you are seeking a change to Parenting Orders it is always best for the parties to try and negotiate that change."
What should you do if you want to change your Parenting Order?
If you are seeking a change to Parenting Orders it is always best for the parties to try and negotiate that change. By doing this the parties can avoid entering into further costly and stressful litigation. At Andersons we assist many clients negotiate and reach arrangements in relation to the parenting arrangements for their children and then formalise those agreements in court by obtaining a Consent Order. A consent order is a court order that can be obtained administratively by an application to the Family Court and no attendance is required at court by either party or their solicitor.
If no agreement can be reached then the party who wants to change the Parenting Order will need to file an application with the court to vary the existing Order.
If the court determines that there has been a significant change in circumstances, the living arrangements for the child will be determined in accordance with the best interests of the child.
If you have final Parenting Orders in place and want to vary them due to a change in circumstances you should seek specialised legal advice from one of our experienced Family Law solicitors.