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Fathers request for change of parenting orders as a result of new partner and new circumstances


Watson and Watson acted on behalf of a Mother, Natasha in relation to parenting proceedings before the Federal Court of Australia in 2012 in which there was a significant dispute between Natasha and Mark the Father of the Children.  The Court made Orders generally in accordance with the Orders that were sought by Natasha.  Those Orders were Orders which allowed for the children, Mary and Christina to primarily live with their Mother and spend time with their Father.

The times as set out in the Orders have been rigorously maintained over many years.  As it happened Natasha and Mark had been able to agree to changes or the holiday periods easily over the past years which did not interrupt the stability of the arrangements that were in place

In 2015 at which time the eldest child Mary was over 18, the Father formed a relationship and a new partner who had two children by her previous relationship.  One of the difficulties that arose at the time that Christina spent with Mark coincided with the time that Mark’s new partner’s children spent with their Father; in particular during the School Terms. 

Mark sought to change the Orders.  One of the major difficulties was that the Orders sought by Mark were to be ‘flexible’ rather than times clearly defined, that had previously been embodied in the 2012 Parenting Orders.

The children had got into the routine of the Orders the arrangements and time that they would spend with their Mother and Father. 

In 2017 the youngest child Christina will be attending High School.  Mary has already finished High School.

The Orders that were put in place in 2012 in particular overnight contact each second Wednesday night did not work for the study patterns desired by Mary.

Christina who is to commence High School in 2012 did not want to spend every second Wednesday at her Father’s as she wishes to concentrate on school activities in particular Monday to Thursday during the School Terms. 

As far as Natasha could ascertain the Father was seeking a different regime for alternative weekends during the School Term.  The 2012 Orders were simple in that the children spent time with their father each alternative weekend throughout the whole year.   This was simple to understand and simple to apply.  The Father did not just seek a change of the alternative weekends but the whole regime during School Terms.

Natasha wished to accommodate the basic change sought by Mark but it took months of negotiating about the written terms of the Order.  Natasha wanted an Order that was clear and concise.  Mark wanted an Order that complied with his wishes and his new partner’s wishes in relation to the children.  Mark never provided a copy of the Orders in relation to his partner’s arrangement.  However, it became clear there was a complicated hard to follow flexible arrangement.  It was also difficult to tie in arrangements between Mark and Natasha in relation to their children.  Richard Watson with clear thinking and assistance appropriate Orders were prepared (3 separate options) and provided by us on behalf of Natasha to the Father from which the Father could consider what was appropriate in his new circumstances. 

In the end an agreement was reached as to the changes which accommodated the Father’s wishes and to a lesser degree Christina’s wish not to have every second Wednesday night with her Father in particular during the School Term.

Further complications arose as the original Orders in 2014 were based on the Public School Holidays, whereas the children went to Private Schools for High School.  More careful consideration of the initial Orders would have overcome the complications that arose in this regard.  This was just one more difficulty in re-negotiating the terms.  The main difficulty in this case was the imprecise Orders between Mark’s new partner and the Father of her children in relation to their arrangement.  The question was how to document in clear terms this agreement basically agreed to by Natasha at the request of the Father with still achieving what had been a good arrangement in that there had been a clear arrangement set out in the Parenting Orders which had been maintained and continued for many years. 

The fundamental wish of Natasha was to have an appropriately drafted Order which would be able to be followed and agreed to between Natasha and Mark for the benefit of the children in years to come.

If you have any queries in relation to the time the children spend with either the Mother or Father and arrangements in relation to the children’ accommodation and other matters please contact Richard Watson or his Personal Assistant Shereen Da Gloria to discuss the matter with an experienced family Lawyer.

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