The Truth About Changing Your Parenting Orders

changing parenting orders

The Truth About Changing Your Parenting Orders

Before you enter into parenting orders

Parenting orders can’t just be changed because one parent doesn’t like the way things are working with the order or ‘feels like it’.

To change a parenting order in a court you have to show the court that there is a need for the orders to change because there has been a significant change in circumstances.

Parenting Orders – Threshold Test

To change an existing court order, you need to show that there has been a significant change of circumstances that make a change necessary.

This is to avoid parents continuously going to court to obtain the orders that they want.

A formal application to change the orders must be made in court.

In Rice v Asplund decided over 30 years ago, the Family Court said that before it reviewed a Parenting Order, it would need to be satisfied that:

  1. A substantial change in circumstances had occurred, or
  2. That important information was not disclosed when the current Orders were made.

A substantial change in circumstances will depend on the facts of each case.

What is a substantial change in circumstances?

  • The current Orders are entirely unworkable;
  • The current Orders no longer reflect the actual arrangements for the child;
  • A parent has relocated;
  • A parent has lost their job;
  • A parent has remarried;
  • When children have expressed a wish to spend time with or live with a different parent.

The Court has been careful to point out that change is an ever-present factor in life and needs to be of a serious nature to justify a review of Final Orders.

Breach of Existing Orders

The Court may also consider changing Final Parenting Orders if an application is filed stating that another party has breached the Orders (this is known as a Contravention Application).

Once a Contravention Application has been filed, the Court has the power to alter the Parenting Order.

It doesn’t matter whether the breach is proven.

The court makes the variation of the Order to protect the best interests of the child named in the Order.

Informal Arrangements

You can mediate with the other side and come to an informal arrangement.

This typically means entering into a parenting plan where you both agree to the new conditions for the children.

You should consider getting legal advice before changing a parenting order by a parenting plan because parenting plans are not enforceable.

This means if one parent doesn’t follow the parenting plan the Court can’t do anything about it. You

This means if one parent doesn’t follow the parenting plan the Court can’t do anything about it. You

You can have a parenting plan written up into consent orders which are filed with the court and made into court orders which are enforceable.

Hayder Shkara
Hayder Shkara

Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.

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