Who Can Seek Orders in the Family Court Regarding a Child?

Who Can Seek Orders in the Family Court Regarding a Child?

What is a parenting order?

The scope of a parenting order is broad. A parenting order may deal with who the child may live with, and who the child is to spend time with. It may also encompass the allocation of parental responsibility, including but not limited to the long-term decisions for a child. They consist of issues such as schooling, cultural upbringing and health.

To simply put it, the Court has inherent power to grant orders which relate to any aspect of the care or welfare of the child. When determining whether a parenting order is feasible, the Court will always consider the best interest of the child.

Who may apply for a parenting order

A parenting order may be applied for by any of the following people:

  1. either of the child’s parents; or
  2. the child; or
  3. a grandparent of the child; or
  4. any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.

When orders are sought from non-parent parties, the Court has stated “… that there has to be some relationship between, or involvement with, the child in a meaningful sense in order that the person who makes the application can have standing” (Venkatesan & Pawar [2007] FMCAfam 1109 at [8]-[9]).

There is no preferential position given to a parent where the case involves a parent and non-parent (Valentine & Lacerra [2013] FamCAFC 53).

Recent case law examples of non-parents seeking parenting orders

Hospitals and medical professionals often seek orders where they are not in agreement with the parents about the treatment of the child. This usually pertains to quite serious medical conditions and or procedures such as:

  1. Sterilisation: Re Angela [2010] FamCA 98
  2. Treatment options of serious diseases: Director Clinical Services, Child & Adolescent Health Services And Kiszko & Anor [2016] FCWA 75
  3. Family members other than the mother and father of the child may also be a party who seek parenting orders. Examples include:
    1. Grandparents granted equal shared parental responsibility: Bentley & Bentley and Anor [2016] FAMCA 757
    2. Orders made that children live with maternal grandmother and maternal great aunt and that they have joint parental responsibility: Jinson v Bentleigh [2015] FAMCA 1148; or,

Where both parents of a child are unable or incapable of caring for the children, the Department of Child Protection or equivalent may intervene and seek sole parental responsibility: Eliot v Dent [2016] FAMCA 128

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