Relatives or third parties applying for time with children- Where do you stand?
Assisted by Kirstie Barfoot
Under the Family Law Act, a person can seek Court Orders regarding the parenting of children if they are:
- the children’s parents;
- the children themselves;
- the grandparents of the children; or
- any person concerned with the children’s welfare and development.
This seemingly allows quite a wide variety of people to apply for parenting Orders, particularly when taking into account the last point, however the Family Court has historically been very strict when considering applications from someone other than a parent or grandparent of the children. In these circumstances, the Court requires the party applying for Orders to establish facts which justify their need to spend time with the children, and whether it is in the children’s best interests.
In May 2016, the case of Mankiewicz and Anor & Swallow was heard by the full Family Court. The case concerned an appeal made by great grandparents who had made several attempts to secure parenting Orders to spend time with their great grandchildren.
The first time the parties in this matter approached the court was in 2009, when it was found that their relationship with the children didn’t pass the necessary threshold for the Court to interfere with existing parenting arrangements. Subsequent appeals were dismissed as the parties were unable to provide further evidence to persuade the Court that it was in the best interests of the children to spend time with them.
This case highlights one of many difficulties when the Family Court is asked to intervene in domestic family arrangements. If a party is trying to secure time with children, but is not their parent, guardian or grandparent, the ability for that party to obtain Court Orders to secure time with the children rests on their role in the lives of the children, their historical interest and influence in their wellbeing, and the best interests of the children generally moving forward.
If you are interested in obtaining parenting Orders for children that you are not the parent, guardian or grandparent of, please contact: