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Understanding Parenting Orders in Family Law

It is no secret that divorces are ugly, especially when there are minor children involved. As a parent, your responsibility towards your child does not end simply because you did not get along with your partner. According to Australian family law, your responsibility as a parent continues till your children are of legal age, unless the court has ordered otherwise due to certain circumstances.

In most cases, the parents are able to reach an agreement. Family law in Australia also places a heavy emphasis on such agreements where both parents are involved in making arrangements for the children. Though court proceedings are often resorted to, they are discouraged vehemently by the legal system.

How Can Parents Reach an Agreement?

Australian family law has established special Family Relationship Centers which are located all over the continent. These centers are designed to counsel parents and families, and provide them with all the information about their relationship as well as separation. These centers also help the parents reach agreements regarding their children after separation. In addition to Family Relationship Centers, the courts have also established ‘pre-action procedures’, which are a set of steps that the parents have to comply with before they can take the child custody matter to court. It is important for the parents to have a certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner, stating that genuine efforts have been made to resolve the family issues before taking the matter to court.

What if an Agreement Cannot be Reached?

Often, parents are not able to agree on the matter of their children. In such a case, they can apply to the family courts. The family courts, in turn, determine which parent is responsible for what and create legal orders accordingly. These orders are known as the parenting orders. There are four different kinds of parenting orders according to Australian family law. These are the orders for parent responsibility and decision making, living arrangements and custody, communication and spending time with the parent with which the child does not live and child maintenance and support. Anyone concerned with the welfare of the child can approach the court to obtain such orders.

What Should You Do?

It is best if both the parents can agree on the care and support of the child. Such mutual agreements are more amicable, cheaper and better for the children. However, there are always cases where a lot of bitterness is involved and the parents are not able to reach mutual agreements. In such cases, it is best to talk to a family lawyer and discuss the way forward.

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