NSW Varying Family Court Parenting Orders

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1 March 2015
Orders were made in 2011 by the FCA (Family Court) when child was 6.

Extremely high conflict between the parents; completely different parenting styles, values etc.
Most recently, the "spending time with" parent (Parent A) has now blocked their mobile number from the "resides with" parent (Parent B), so that neither the parent nor the child can contact Parent A without calling other numbers and leaving a message.

This seems to be a result of Parent B asking the Police to contact Parent A and advise them of the law regarding using a carriage service to menace, harass, offend etc after having a gutful of being abused via SMS.
Orders state that each parent can contact the child whilst in the care of the other parent, and vice versa (child can contact parents). Parent B can no longer do this without the complex rigmarole of leaving messages on other numbers. SMS was the primary method of contact used between the parents. Parent B thinks this is a breach of s65NA, among other things. Parent B also wants a record of interactions with Parent A - eg records of SMS.

This incident is one in a fairly long line that are adversely affecting the child (Parent A won't buy school uniforms for the child, is extremely authoritarian, has high conflict with his present spouse, doesn't support the relationship between the child and Parent B, constantly arranges to do things with the child on Parent B's weekends without any consultation, doesn't support the child's education, etc.)

The child has frequently stated that they love Parent A, but don't like them and are scared of them. Parent B does their best to support the child's relationship with Parent A, Parent A's extended family and Parent A's other children. CJC mediation last year was a dismal failure. Parent B has also been taking the child to a developmental psychologist for help with the child's separation anxiety, emotional regulation difficulties and borderline ASD traits.

So. Parent B has begun the process of Family Dispute Resolution with a view to having the current orders varied by the FCA.

My questions:
Would the adverse impact on the child by Parent A's behaviour likely meet the criteria under Rice and Asplund?
Does Family Dispute Resolution have to take place prior to Parent B filing an initiating application?


Well-Known Member
23 July 2014
So, Parent B is pursuing family dispute resolution not to solve the problem, but instead to take Parent A back to court?

I don't think you have a Rice & Asplund case here, I think you have a the-parents-should-take-a-course-or-two-and-learn-to-put-the-child-first case. No matter how convincing the argument is, both parents are responsible for contributing to conflict.

First, in what way has blocking Parent B's number had an adverse impact on the child, and what proof do you have of cause and effect?

Rice & Asplund says orders will only be changed by the court if there has been a significant change in circumstances that means the current arrangements are no longer in the best interests of the child. A significant change of circumstances are things like unilateral relocation, or the the development of family violence. Blocking phone numbers signals a need to change the communication method between the parents, not the orders.

What I would suggest is going to family dispute resolution with a proposal to change how the parents communicate. A communication book, an app like 2houses or e-mail are good options for parents experiencing conflict - it's less instant and gives the parents time to sort through their emotional response so that they can provide an assertive and rational answer to communications.

I would also suggest going to family dispute resolution to request that both parties attend a post-separation parenting course.

In answer to your second question, yes, you do need to attend family dispute resolution before filing another initiating application.