When two parents separate, their main duty should be to provide for their children and ensure that they are safe and well cared for. Yet, it is not always easy for the adults to come to any agreement, and it is often necessary for parenting orders to be issued by a court to detail how matters should proceed. If you are one of the adults in this position, you may have heard of a document known as a "notice of risk." What is this, and is it something that you have to provide to the court as well?
For some years now, the law has insisted that a notice of risk accompany any application that seeks parenting orders. Without this additional form, the court will not consider parenting orders.
This form was originally introduced to ensure that any and all risks are correctly reported and not overlooked in any way. The court will need this information to make sure that the children have not been subject to any assault, sexual assault, psychological harm or serious neglect.
Questions in the form may ask if the child or children have ever been subject to behaviour that may cause them to be fearful. The court will also want to know if they have been exposed to any violent or threatening behaviour or any activity construed as controlling or coercive.
These questions can be wide-ranging as well. For example, the court may determine that the child has been exposed to family violence if they see or hear anything that may be construed as such. Likewise, they could have been affected if they had to bring comfort to another family member who had, themselves, been assaulted by a family member.
Who Can Submit a Form?
Other parties can also submit a notice of risk if they are concerned. So, for example, if the grandparents have seen anything that they were not happy with, they are encouraged to come forward, as is an independent children's lawyer, should one have been appointed.
Affidavit and Evidence
When a form is submitted, it has to be accompanied by an affidavit. The person who submitted the form must also be prepared to show evidence when requested by the court.
Once the form has been filed, it will typically be sent to the department responsible for family services in the particular state. It will be up to that department to investigate and to take the matter further.
If you feel that you need to file a notice of risk, discuss the matter first with a family lawyer. They can provide more details regarding family law.