Changing Family Court Orders

More and more parents are revising family court orders because of changes in their children’s or their circumstances.

However, it’s essential to understand that court orders can’t be changed simply because one parent is dissatisfied or “feels like it.”

Changing Family Court Orders Without Going to Court

If you want to modify a family court order without going to court, the first step is to talk to the other parent to see if you can reach an agreement or compromise.

If that’s not possible, attending mediation is the next step to try to resolve the matter before involving lawyers and going to court.

Informal Arrangements with Other Parents

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.

Legal Ways on How to Get a Court Order Changed

If mediation fails, seeking legal advice and potentially going to court might be necessary. To change a parenting order in court, you need to demonstrate that there’s a significant change in circumstances warranting the modification.

Rice and Asplund Threshold Test

If you are considering changing family court orders, it means that you need to show that there has been a significant change in circumstances that makes a change necessary.

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

However, the Court understands that circumstances in children’s lives will change over time.

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.


A Significant Change in Circumstances, Family Law


Here is a list of things that a court may consider when deciding whether or not changing Family Court orders is in the best interests of the child:

  • 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.

Changing family court orders through a court should be something a parent considers as a last resort. The Court has been careful to point out that change is an ever-present factor in life and needs to be serious to justify a review of Final Orders.

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