Parenting orders must be in your child's best interests

Date: Apr 13, 2012

Couples who decide to separate will have all manner of things to take into account when seeking family law advice, but in situations where children are involved, their interests need to come first.

Although it is preferable to settle such disputes out of court, in some cases you might find yourselves seeking a court order, which will ascertain who has responsibility for your children.

On occasions, this is known as a parenting order and often stipulates that parents have joint responsibility for their offspring.

It is essential that everyone affected by the parenting order does their utmost to follow it, as it will lay out a number of requirements for all those involved.

Children must likewise be actively encouraged to comply with the order - although it may take some time to adjust, youngsters need to be made aware of why the decisions have been made.

For example, a parenting order will determine who the child will live with and how much time they will spend with each of their parents - you may even need to include other guardians such as grandparents in the agreement.

If your child is to live with one parent for the majority of the time, then it is necessary to ascertain how much they will be able to communicate with the other parent, as well as any other family members.

Should the parenting order require joint responsibility, then any potential change to the long-term care of the child needs to be made by both parties. Every effort needs to be made to reach a joint decision.

There will no doubt be instances where parenting orders are disobeyed, for which there can be potentially serious penalties.

Punishments will depend on the situation and what type of contravention has been made.

It might result in the court order being altered, or compensation being offered for the time not spent with a child as a result of the contravention.

In more serious circumstances, you could find yourself asked to participate in community service, ordered to pay a fine or punished with a spell in prison.

Family lawyers will be able to advise that the provisions made in a parenting order continue to stand until a new document or parenting strategy is introduced.

Even when a change in circumstances arises, the parenting order is still applicable until it has formally been changed by the court.