Unfortunately, the news is full of horror stories about parents being involved in family violence related incidents which end with the murder or serious injury to one parent, and the other parent being taken into Police custody. While harrowing for the community and devastating for the families involved, the question remains, what happens to the children who are left without parents due to injury, death or imprisonment?
From mid-2022 the Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia introduced a “Critical Incident List” where cases can be brought before the Court on an urgent basis, within 7 days where possible, to allow a non-parent carer to ask for parental responsibility orders about those children. An application can be made through the Critical Incident List where:
- a non-parent is caring for a child;
- the child is unable to be cared for by a parent because of death, critical injury or the incarceration of one of the parents because of a family violence incident; and
- where the applicant is asking for parental responsibility so they can make appropriate arrangements for the child or children to attend school, be provided with healthcare and so that arrangements can be made about where the child or children will live.
The normal “pre-action procedures” that would apply to children do not apply when an application is made to the Critical Incident List. This means that the carer does not need to attend mediation or make any attempt to try and negotiate with a surviving parent before they apply to the Court.
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