Children grow up and family circumstances change. That’s the nature of life. Parents may separate while their children are young, and many opt to make parenting arrangements for their children through Parenting Orders. When these parenting orders are made while the children are young, parents have usually done their best to make arrangements based on their situation at the time. However, significant changes to family circumstances often result in the need for parents to revisit their parenting orders and adjust. So, what is the process for changing parenting orders in Qld?
When Can You Change a Parenting Order?
For the courts to change parenting orders in Qld, there must firstly be a significant change in the circumstances since the first order was made. A ‘significant change’ is usually decided on a case by case basis, but the court will only consider changing orders if the circumstances satisfy the test outlined by the case, Rice v Asplund from 1979.
The Rice vs Asplund case dealt with living arrangements for the separated parties’ young daughter. Initially, the parenting order outlined for the child to live with the father. Not long after the order was made, the mother brought in an application to change the current order, requesting that the daughter live with her and spend time with the father. The ‘significant changes’ in the mother’s circumstances included obtaining stable accommodation and remarrying. The child was also about to commence school. The court ruled these changes to be significant enough to change the Parenting Order. Ultimately, these changes proved to be in the best interest of the child.
Examples of a ‘significant change’ could be the following:
- One party is seeking to relocate with their children;
- One or both partners has re-married or re-partnered; and
- Both parties have consented to new parenting arrangements (through a Parenting Plan)
For more information on what constitutes a ‘significant change’ when changing parenting orders in Qld, please get in touch to speak to our lawyers.
Applying to Change an Order
When applying for a Parenting Order variation, the first step is to attempt negotiating any changes with your former partner. If both parties come to an agreement, a new order can be arranged to reflect the changes. It is important to note that any changes must always remain in the best interest of the child or children.
An alternative to updating the Parenting Order is to enter a Parenting Plan that outlines any changes. Parenting Plans are not legally enforceable, however, it will be considered if the parties end up in court to decide on permanently changing their parenting order.
If Parties Can Not Agree on Changes
For parties that are unable to come to an agreement on changes to existing parenting orders, your best options are to look into dispute resolution tactics like collaborative law and mediation. Here, parties can work towards coming to an agreement without having to go to court. If an agreement can still not be met, the parent wishing to make the change to the existing order might want to consider filing a new application to the court. Our lawyers can help you with this process.
Speak to Our Lawyers About Changing Parenting Orders in Qld
Any questions regarding parenting orders in Qld and the process of changing them? Our lawyers are highly experienced in all family matters including divorce and separation, children’s matters and collaborative law and mediation. Please get in touch to find out how we can help you.