Family disputes are not uncommon and can sometimes lead to parents, adult children or extended family members becoming estranged.
What if your parents or those of your spouse or even a former de facto partner had a say in how your children are being brought up. Is that even possible?
In normal family law matters the question as to who can apply for an order in relation to your children may seem straightforward and it usually it is, but there can be surprises.
A parenting order (in summary) deals with:
- Where children are to live,
- What time they spend with any other person
- The communication children are to have with any other person e.g. telephone mail email etc.
- The allocation of responsibility that enables that person to make parenting decisions such as where a child goes to school, what medical treatment they may have etc.
There are four categories of people who can apply. These are:
- The parents.
- The grandparents.
- The children.
- And anyone else who has a concern with the child’s care welfare and development (Whatever this means).
It’s usually with this last category where the trouble starts.
People who can fall into this category often include disaffected extended family members such as uncles and aunts, cousins etc, but also a person a child has lived with over a period of time for example same-sex couples where the child was not conceived during that relationship.
Since March 2009 the definition of children was extended so that now both parties to a marriage or a defector relationship whether opposite or same sex couples are considered parents.
If a person does not fall into categories 1 – 3 above, there has to be some relationship between or involvement with the child in a meaningful sense in order for that person to successfully make a parenting application.
An interesting aside is that an estranged adult sibling (normally arising from a breakdown of the relationship between the older sibling and their parents) who isn’t spending any time or having any contact with their younger brothers and sisters, can ask the Court for orders to spend time with them. An interesting world.