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Varying parenting Orders – the rule in Rice and Asplund

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has a clear principle that the Court should only hear an application to vary an earlier Order if it is satisfied that there is some changed circumstance which would justify such a serious step. This is known as the “rule in Rice and Asplund”.

The rules in Rice and Asplund applies whether the earlier Orders were made by consent of the parties or after a contested hearing before the Court.

The principle underpinning the rule in Rice and Asplund is that there should be an end to litigation; that is the avoidance of endless litigation between parents examining again and again the same issues and arrangements.

However, there are instances where it is necessary for a Court to revisit earlier Orders. While there is no exhaustive list of what constitutes a changed circumstance in previous cases, this has included psychological and physical changes in the child, evidence of violence towards the child, a parent’s recovery from former mental health issues, a proposed relocation by one parent and a parents new stable relationship or marriage.

Should one parent bring an application to revisit earlier Orders and a Court be satisfied that there is a changed circumstance, then the matter is considered again by the Court and new Orders may be made.

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