How Parenting Orders Can Help Parents Navigate Post-Divorce Child Arrangements

Learn about the purpose and process of obtaining parenting Orders, and how they can help families navigate post-divorce child arrangements.
Parenting Orders

The process of divorce can be understandably complicated and emotionally challenging for parents and children alike. One of the most critical aspects of this journey is ensuring that the needs and well-being of children are prioritised by establishing clear arrangements for their care, support, and ongoing relationship with both parents. In Western Australia, parenting Orders are an essential tool that can help parents navigate this often-complex territory, providing a legally binding framework for post-divorce child arrangements.


Parenting Orders outline various aspects of parental responsibility that are crucial for the ongoing care and support of children after a divorce, addressing details such as where they will reside, with whom they will spend time, and the level of communication between parents. By providing a clear and binding framework for these critical decisions, parenting Orders can help minimise conflict, reduce uncertainty, and promote the best interests of the children involved.


In this article, we aim to shed light on the importance and purpose of parenting orders, the process of obtaining these Orders, and how both parents and children can benefit from this invaluable legal instrument. Additionally, we will discuss how engaging the services of an experienced family lawyer can provide essential guidance and support in securing a successful parenting Order that caters to the unique needs and circumstances of your family. 


The Purpose and Importance of Parenting Orders


Parenting Orders play a vital role in providing a clear framework for child arrangements after a divorce. Here are some essential aspects that parenting orders address:


  1. Parental Responsibility: Parenting Orders outline each parent’s role and responsibilities in decision-making related to the child’s welfare, education, and healthcare.
  2. Living Arrangements: The Orders specify with whom the child will reside and any shared parental responsibilities, ensuring the child’s living arrangements align with their best interests.
  3. Time Spent with Each Parent: Parenting Orders define the time children will spend with each parent, promoting a balanced, ongoing relationship with both parties (provided it is safe to do so and no risk issues are present). 
  4. Communication Guidelines: By outlining how parents should communicate with each other and their children, parenting Orders help create a harmonious environment post-divorce.


By having these matters legally defined, parenting Orders can help alleviate tension between parents and contribute to a stable, supportive environment for the child.


The Process of Obtaining Parenting Orders


The process of obtaining parenting orders in Western Australia typically includes the following stages:


  1. Attempt Family Dispute Resolution: Before applying to the court for parenting Ordera, most parents are required to make a genuine effort to resolve their issues through Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) – a cooperative process that encourages open communication in pursuit of mutual agreement.
  2. Filing an Application: If FDR is unsuccessful or inappropriate for your circumstances, you may file an application for parenting Orders with the Family Court of Western Australia.. This application outlines your proposed Orders, addressing relevant parenting arrangements.
  3. Serving the Application: The other parent must be appropriately served with the application, informing them of your proposed Orders and allowing them an opportunity to respond.
  4. Court Proceedings: If both parties cannot reach an agreement, your case will proceed through the Court system to a Final Hearing where a Judicial Officer examines the evidence and weighs the merits of the competing applications. Ultimately, the judge will issue a final decision known as ‘the Orders,’ which are legally binding on both parents.


Any parenting Orders made (whether by consent or otherwise) must be in the child/ren’s best interests – this is the paramount consideration under the applicable legislation. The Court will simply not make Orders that are not considered in the child/ren’s best interests. 


Navigating Complex Parenting Order Scenarios with Legal Assistance


While some applications for parenting Orders may be relatively straightforward, others might involve more complex scenarios. These situations may include:


  1. Relocation Requests: Should one parent wish to move a considerable distance away or overseas, this decision can significantly impact the other parent’s time with the child. A skilled family lawyer can help you navigate this complex issue and ensure that the child’s best interests are prioritised.
  2. High-Conflict Cases: In cases where parents cannot effectively communicate or cooperate, legal representation is essential in advocating for the best interests of the child and protecting your parental rights.
  3. Changes to Existing Orders: Should circumstances change to warrant modifications to existing parenting Orders, a family lawyer can guide you through this process, ensuring that any amendments are legally valid and reflective of all parties’ best interests. 


In these complex situations, the assistance of an experienced family lawyer is invaluable in ensuring that your parenting order adequately and fairly addresses your family’s unique needs.


The Role of a Family Lawyer


An experienced family lawyer can play a critical role in securing parenting orders that serve the best interests of both parents and children. Their responsibilities may include:


  1. Legal Advice: A family lawyer will ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities in relation to your child so that you can make informed decisions throughout the process.
  2. Case Preparation: They can help you assemble evidence, address relevant factors, and articulate your proposed orders in a compelling and legally sound manner.
  3. Court Representation: Your family lawyer will act as your advocate in court, presenting your case to the Judicial Officer and responding to any arguments or concerns raised by the opposing party or the Court.
  4. Mediation and Negotiation: Beyond court representation, family lawyers can assist in mediation and negotiation, helping you reach an agreement with the other parent in line with the best interests of your child.


Prioritising Children’s Best Interests


By understanding the purpose, process, and complexities of obtaining parenting orders, you can move forward confidently in securing a thoughtful and balanced post-divorce child arrangement. Engaging the services of an experienced family lawyer to navigate this critical aspect of family law will provide valuable guidance and support, ensuring your parenting orders cater to your family’s unique needs and prioritise your children’s well-being. 


As a trusted family law firm in Mandurah, Coastal Family Law provides comprehensive legal support to parents seeking parenting Orders. Our experienced family lawyers will work closely with you to understand your unique circumstances and priorities, including your children’s preferences, if appropriate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you secure a thoughtful and balanced post-divorce child arrangement.


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