Parties may wish to formalise their parenting arrangements via orders issued by the Court. This may be achieved by way of agreement reached between the parties (consent orders) or can be the subject of a decision made by the Court following family law proceedings.
How Can I Change My Parenting Orders?
The simplest method to change parenting orders is by agreement with the other parent. If an agreement is unable to be reached, the only other option is to make an application to the Court.
As a general rule, it is difficult for a party to change final parenting orders as the Court aims to prevent parties from engaging in ongoing litigation.
A party seeking to change final parentings orders is required to satisfy the Court that:
- There has been a “significant change in circumstances” since the final orders were made; or
- Important information had not been disclosed to the Court at the time the final orders were made.
This proposition was established in the case of Rice & Asplund (1978) 6 Fam LR 570.
A “Significant Change in Circumstances”
The first category is generally the most common ground a party will rely on in support of their application to change final parenting orders. Examples of circumstances where the Court has considered there to be a “significant change in circumstance” include:-
- A parent overcomes a drug or alcohol addiction.
- Where a party wishes to relocate or has relocated.
- A child developing a serious mental health issue.
- A child becoming older and expressing a strong view in relation to their preference regarding the final parenting orders.
- A parent failing to comply with the final parenting orders.
- Re-marriage and securing stable accommodation.
It is important to be aware that each case depends on its own individual merits and circumstances.
Important Information Was Not Disclosed
The second category is less common and involves circumstances where key information was not disclosed at the time the final parenting order was made. An example of this is where a party did not disclose issues of family violence to the Court.
Please contact our office on (03) 8393 0144, if you would like to discuss your options or prospects of changing or varying a final parenting order with one of our experienced family lawyers.