Do children have a right to spend time with extended family and other significant people? Can I only apply for parenting orders in relation to a child if I am a parent?
By Katryna Induni
13 April 2022
During this time and leading up to Easter (Christian and Eastern Orthodox), Passover and over Ramadan, often it is difficult for extended family members who are not able to have children spend time with their family due to difficulties in relationships between parents.
However, you don’t have to be a parent to bring parenting proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
Under section 65C of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), a parenting Order in relation to a child may be applied for by:
- Either or both of the child’s parents; or
- The child; or
- A grandparent of the child; or
- Any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child.
In the determination of what is in a child’s best interests, the Court’s additional considerations include the nature of the child’s relationship with other persons, including grandparents or other relatives of the child and important persons.
The definition of relative includes a step-parent of the child, a sibling, half-sibling or step-sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew or cousin.
If a grandparent or other relative is concerned about the care, welfare or development of a child, including that the child is not being afforded the opportunity to continue a meaningful relationship with them to the detriment of the child’s wellbeing, then they can invite the parents of the child to mediation (for example through Relationships Australia) or apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a parenting Order.
The Court will consider whether it is in the best interests of the child for there to be specific Orders as to regular time and communication with the Child, and depending on the application before the Court, could even make Orders providing for the child to live with the applicant relative or allocate to them parental responsibility.
In determining whether to interfere in the relationship between a child and their relatives, the Court may take into consideration a variety of circumstances, including the historical involvement of the person in the child’s life, the regularity of their time spent together or communication, practical and geographical logistics and the positivity of the influence of that person on the child.
If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of your grandchild, niece or nephew, cousin or other family member and wish to act protectively or ensure that the child is able to have a continuing relationship with you as a person who is important to their care, welfare and development, please do not hesitate to contact the Tisher Liner FC Law Family Law Team.
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