From 2005 care of divorcing and separating couples' children was organised through parenting agreements and parenting orders. A parenting agreement was made by the couple (and anyone else involved), and a parenting order was made by the Family Court. An agreement could not be enforced in the way a court order could, so some couples asked the court to issue an order based on an agreement they had reached between themselves.
The court issued nearly 5,000 parenting orders in 2007. Mothers applied for 43% of orders, fathers for 29%, and others, including grandparents, for 27%. This graph shows the results of those orders. Mother-only care was chosen in 58% of cases, father-only in 12%, and shared mother/father care in 11%. Others were given sole responsibility in 17% of cases, and in 2% of orders others shared care of children with one of the parents.
In 68.4% of cases, care of children was decided ‘by consent’ – the parents had agreed beforehand. In 22.5% of cases care was decided at a formal proof hearing (when one parent does not attend). Defended hearings, at which one parent challenges the other, were 9.1% of cases.
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