Given the prevalence of blended families and other less
traditional (for want of a better term) family arrangements, the
concept of a nuclear family in 2015 is at best blurred and, more
likely, irrelevant. There is often confusion about how the Courts
can assist in allowing a person to have a child live with them,
spend time with them or otherwise seek a Parenting Order.
A Parenting Order is defined by the Family Law Act as an Order
that deals with arrangements for a child. These include where a
child is to live, the time a child is to spend with another person,
allocation of parental responsibility, maintenance of a child and
The more relevant question is who may apply for a Parenting
Order. According to Section 65C of the Family Law Act, a Parenting
Order can be applied for by a range of people including either of
the child's parents, the child itself, a grandparent or, most
vaguely, any other person concerned with the child's care,
welfare or development.
That last category could include a sibling, an aunt or uncle, a
cousin, someone a child has been living with (such as a family
friend) or anyone else with a significant connection to the child.
For example, a sibling who isn't spending time with other
siblings who are under the age of 18 (arising, normally, from a
falling out between the older sibling and their parents) can bring
an Application before the Court to seek to have a Court provide for
them to spend time with their younger siblings.
Similarly, someone the child is living with (normally in
circumstances where the parents are unable to care for a child) can
seek an Order confirming that the child lives with them or
otherwise, dealing with parental responsibilities. This is often
important in arranging things like medical care for the child,
enrolment in school or day care or otherwise making long-term
decisions about the care of the child.
If a Court does propose to making a Parenting Order dealing with
who a child should live with, or an Order that allocates parental
responsibility to someone other than a parent, grandparent or
relative of the child, then under Section 65G a Court will not make
the Orders unless the parties have attended a conference with a
Family Consultant (irrespective of whether they are by consent or
not). The matter to be determined by the proposed Order is
discussed during the conference to satisfy the Court that there are
circumstances that make it appropriate to make that Order.
In summary, the powers that a Court has to make Orders for
people other than the parents of a child are far reaching, but not
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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