19 Jun Can I change my parenting Orders?
Generally speaking, parenting Orders will remain in place and enforceable unless the parties to the Order enter into a subsequent parenting plan or further Order. Both of those subsequent options require the consent of both parties, which can leave a party wanting to change the Orders in a very difficult position.
If you want to change your parenting Orders but you do not have the consent of the other party, you are going to be tasked with the challenge of convincing the Court that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the making of the existing Order that warrants exposing the children to further litigation. The Full Court of the Family Court of Australia established this principle of law in the matter of Rice and Asplund (1979) FLC 90-725 and stated (at p 78-095) that a Court “…should not lightly entertain an application to reverse an earlier custody order. To do so would be to invite endless litigation for change is an ever present factor in human affairs.”
From the above decision, and those that have followed, it has become clear that a Court is unlikely to grant an Application seeking to change earlier parenting Orders if the issue giving rise to the desire to change is one that was reasonably foreseeable at the time the original Order was made, the most obvious example being that children will grow older.
Parenting Orders can be entered into when children are very young, and circumstances will change. Before entering into parenting Orders, it is worthwhile considering where terms can be included in the Orders to expectance of children growing and developing and circumstances changing. For example:
- Should there be an agreed time when the Orders will be reviewed?
- Should the Orders provide for gradually changing care arrangements based on the child’s age?
- Should the Orders determine what happens if one party relocates a certain distance from the child’s school?
Parenting Orders have an important role to play for most separated families, but careful consideration is required to the terms of those Orders before entry given the hurdle faced to change same without consent in the future.
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