What decisions can the Court make?
The family law Courts have a wide range of powers when it comes to making parenting Orders. The Court can make Orders about a number of issues, including but not limited to:
- Parental responsibility;
- Which parent the child lives with;
- How much time a child spends with the other parent, or another interested person; or
- How and when a child communicates with another parent.
“Parental responsibility” means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to their children. The relevant law, being the Family Law Act 1975 (Commonwealth) starts from the presumption that it is in the best interest of children for their parents to have “equal shared .
That presumption will not, however apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent has engaged in abuse or family violence.
In relation to day-to-day arrangements, the Court may make orders, for instance:
- for a child to live with both parents in an equal time arrangement; or
- for a child to live with one parent and spend time with another parent or interested person.
If the court decides to make orders for time, which is not an equal time arrangement, the court must consider an arrangement for “significant and substantial time” which is intended to provide children with the benefit of both parents involvement in their lives, including school days and non-school days, holiday time, special occasions and the like. It is not always practicable for these arrangements to be put in place, but they must be considered.
The Court also has powers to make other Orders such as for telephone or video communication with parents, how changeover arrangements will work, specific provision for overseas travel, maintaining passports, ensuring that each parent has access to various information and records including school and medical reports. In extreme circumstances, the Court has certain powers to restrain a parent from coming into contact with children or parents allowing children to come into contact with some other person.
The application of the law in relation to parenting arrangements is an area of wide discretion – there are a wide range of factors that the Court will consider when making parenting Orders. We can assist you to understand how your circumstances will effect the types of parenting orders the Court is likely to make.