Can a step-parent get custody?
A mother unexpectedly passes away and her 13 year old son wants to continue to live with his step-father, contrary to the biological fathers wishes. What should happen?
The Family Law Act provides that a parenting order may be applied for by:
- A parent;
- The child;
- A grandparent; or
- Any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child.
This final and broad category can include any number of persons who might have such a level of involvement in a child’s life. One such category of people, includes step-parents. Clearly, a step-parent who has had an active involvement in raising a child will be considered a person concerned with that child’s welfare, and will be able to apply to the court for parenting orders in their favour.
In a recent tragic case, a mother passed away in a car accident. Both the biological father and the step-father sought opposing orders for the child to live with them. The child had previously been living with the mother and the step-father for a number of years, and his half-siblings also lived in the house. He spent regular time with his father, who live in another State.
The child was 13 years of age at the time of the court proceedings. The child indicated, via the family report writer, that he wanted to remain living with his step-father and siblings.
The court agreed that it was in the child’s ‘best interest’ to remain living with his step-dad and siblings, and made orders for the child to spend time with the father each 3rd weekend and half school holidays.
If you have any questions about applying for parenting orders, or any other family law query, please contact our office on (07) 3221 4300 or fill in our online form here to arrange a fixed-fee, no obligation initial consultation with an experienced family law solicitor.