Separated or divorced parents may have court orders or informal arrangements that outline who cares for children. These arrangements cover who the children will live with, how much time they will spend with the other parent, and other matters.
If a parent is diagnosed with cancer, these arrangements may or may not need to be changed. Some people with cancer maintain their parenting arrangements, while others may need time without the children to recover.
If a parent is too ill to manage the usual arrangements for a period of time, the parents may want to think about who else can help. This may include the other parent, grandparents, siblings, neighbours and friends.
Even if everybody agrees to the new arrangement informally, the parents may wish to have a parenting plan written, or change an existing parenting plan. Updating the parenting plan can give all of the people involved some certainty with the new schedule.
If the parents can’t agree on the new arrangements, either of them can apply to the Federal Magistrates Court for a parenting order to determine who will care for the child.
When making a parenting order, the Court’s main concern is the best interests of the child. This includes:
- the capacity of each parent to provide for the child;
- the health of each parent;
- any family violence;
- the relationship between the child and each parent;
- the practical difficulty and expense involved with a child spending time with each parent; and
- the wishes of the child may be taken into account. Generally the court will listen closely to children aged 14 and over, as well as younger children who are very mature.