Can I apply for a parenting order if I am not a parent of the child?
Yes, a parent or grandparent of the child or any other person who is concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child, can apply for parenting orders for the child. This might include other relatives such as aunts, uncles and extended family members.
The court will look at what is in the best interests of the child in working out arrangements for them. For information about the sorts of things the court will look at see Best interests of the child.
Grandparents and other people concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child can also be involved in mediation, counselling and family dispute resolution. They can also be included in consent orders, which are parenting orders made by the court based on an agreement you have come to with the parents about the care of the child.
How do I apply for a parenting order if I am not a parent of the child?
The process for applying for a parenting order in the Family Court if you are not a parent of the child is the same as if you were a parent of the child. For more information, see Parenting Orders.
If I am not a parent of the children and the children live with me, do I need parenting orders?
No, there is no legal requirement to have orders about the care of children. You might have an informal agreement with the parent(s), which has been in place for years and has worked well.
However, if you have a child living with you, having parenting orders can (depending on the wording of the orders) legally give you parental responsibility for the child and the ability to make major long term decisions for their care, welfare and development. The sorts of decision this might include are those about medical treatment and schooling. Sometimes it might be difficult to enrol children in school or get medical procedures carried out if you do not have legal parental responsibility for the child. For more information on parental responsibility, see How does the Family Court deal with a children's case.
Independent legal advice may help you to decide whether you should seek parenting orders.
If I am not a parent, can I be part of a parenting plan?
Yes, you can be a part of a parenting plan if you are not a parent. A parenting plan can include arrangements for other people important in the children's lives such as grandparents. This might include how and when time is to be spent with the child.
However, a parenting plan still needs to be in writing, be made between the parents of the child, and be signed and dated by the parents. For more information see Parenting plans.
Where can I get more information?
- Go to the When Separating website. Here you will find short films about family law and other helpful information and links for families experiencing separation.
Last reviewed: 22/10/2012