WHEN PARENTING ORDERS ARE NOT IN YOUR CHILD’S BEST INTEREST

Father and teenage son

I was really pleased to come across a very interesting report today. It was prepared by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (‘ANDROWS‘).  The report is the first of a four-part research project, set up to look at the reasons why a parent might choose to ignore parenting orders made in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The report also examines the way parenting orders are currently enforced in Australia.

What is the report about?

This stage of the project involved the assistance of 343 industry professionals, including family dispute resolution practitioners, family lawyers, and domestic and family violence specialists.  All of these people work with separated families.  The project team also interviewed 11 judicial officers.

The study found that for judicial officers and for the other professionals listed above, a tension can arise between relying on contravention laws (when a parent does not follow Court orders) and considering child-focussed decision-making.

Concerns about the best interests of children

Often in family law practice, there can be a concern that the best interests of the child might be compromised depending on the parenting orders that are made in particular matters.  As a family lawyer, I often ponder whether there should be a greater involvement of the child’s voice in decision-making.  This would of course require some future reform of our family law system but we go some way with the assistance of Independent Children’s lawyers.

Recommendations from the Report

A key recommendation from the ANDROWS report is that the development of parenting orders must better consider the needs and views of children. This is in order to reduce the noncompliance that can often be driven by children themselves.  Picture this … imagine you have orders in place for your 15 year old son. The orders provide that your son spends every Wednesday night with your co-parent. Your son really doesn’t want to go because it means he’ll miss his soccer practice. What do you do?  Perhaps you’ve tried talking to your co-parent about the issue but they’re just not listening.  And your son definitely isn’t listening to you or accepting that he should follow orders. So you end up being non-compliant with the orders.  How does this impact you?  How does it affect your relationship with your co-parent?  And what about your relationship with your son?  And just as importantly, how does your non-compliance impact you from a legal perspective?

The ANDROWS study also found that there was ‘substantial support among professionals for a greater emphasis on problem-solving and therapeutic approaches to address the underlying causes of non-compliance with parenting orders.’  This is good news for the family law profession as it may just be the catalyst to drive some further changes in the right direction, such as ensuring that the role of a Parenting Coordinator is understood and raised as a support option for separating families.

How O’Loan Family Law Can Help

If you’d like to know more about Parenting Coordination and how it might help you with possible non-compliance issues, we can help. Follow this link to check out further information about Parenting Coordination and how it might assist you with your separation journey.

If you’d like more information, please get in touch at (02) 9922 2230 or send us an email at info@oloanfamilylaw.com.au to discuss your matter in complete confidence.  We can advise and guide you to find the right resolution pathway for you and your family. O’Loan Family Law offers specialist family law advice, conveniently located in North Sydney on Sydney’s North Shore.  We help separating families find amicable solutions that consider your unique situation so you can move on with your life. Our fixed and value pricing service offerings include collaborative practice, assisted DIY separation and what we like to call, the traditional family law pathway. We’ve got your back.

About the Author

Bron O'Loan

Bron O’Loan is the Founder & Director of O’Loan Family Law and is an expert family lawyer and independent children’s lawyer. Bron has worked in Family Law since 2015 and is an experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters. She is also an experienced speaker and best selling author of The Splits – How to help your kids navigate separation and divorce.

This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice.  If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.