A parenting order is not only designed to apply to parents or guardians of a child, but non-parents may also apply for parenting orders to be able to spend time with, or care for a child.

The Family Law Act allows a grandparent, or any other person concerned for the child’s care, welfare, or development to apply for a parenting order.

What is a parenting order?

If parents are not able to agree on caring arrangements for a child, either parent may apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a parenting order.

The Court will make a decision about what caring arrangements are in the best interests of the child. Orders made about children are called parenting orders and each person affected by the parenting order must follow it.

Parents who have come to a mutual agreement as to care arrangements of a child, may also make an application to the Court for legally binding consent orders.

Who can apply for a parenting order?

Section 65C of the Family Law Act allows a range of people concerned with a child’s care, welfare, and development to apply for a parenting order.

This may include:

  • the child’s parents;
  • the child himself or herself;
  • grandparents; or
  • any other person concerned with the child’s care, welfare, or development.

‘Any other person’ may include a sibling, aunt or uncle, a cousin, a family friend, or anyone else with a significant connection to the child.

We recommend you speak to an experienced family lawyer if you are unsure whether you qualify as someone who can apply for a parenting order.

How does a non-parent apply for a parenting order?

If you are not a parent, child, or grandparent, and are seeking a parenting order, you need to satisfy a two-step process.

The first step includes a threshold test where you will be required to prove that you are a person concerned with the care, welfare, or development of the child, in order to bring an application for a parenting order.

The definition of ‘a person concerned with the care, welfare of development of a child’ has been worded broadly in order to permit a wide range of people to apply for parenting orders. It is important to note however, that the Court is stringent when considering applications for parenting orders by people other than a parent or grandparent of a child.

The second step requires parties to attend a conference with a Family Consultant. The reasons why the non-parent is seeking a parenting order are discussed during the conference in order to show the Court that there are circumstances that make it appropriate to make a parenting order in favour of the non-parent.

Applying for a parenting order by a non-parent is a complex process. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice before commencing your application.


If you are a grandparent or any other person concerned for a child’s care, welfare, or development, you may be eligible to apply for a parenting order.

Applications for parenting orders for non-parents can be a complex area of family law so we strongly recommend you seek advice from an experienced family lawyer.

This information is general only and you should obtain professional advice relevant to your circumstances. If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on 1300 704 064 or email [email protected].