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Child Custody Lawyers

Assisting families through parenting matters with compassion

Children and parenting are at the heart of family law matters. We are here to navigate the complexities of parenting arrangements and help you create a positive future for your children.

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Our approach to children and parenting matters

The paramount consideration when determining future parenting arrangements for a child is what is in the child’s best interests. 

It is widely recognised that children generally benefit from having a meaningful relationship with both parents. However, this must be balanced against the potential risks of harm to the child, including psychological, physical, or emotional harm. The focus is on prioritising the child’s well-being and safety in making decisions about parenting arrangements.

In situations where court proceedings become necessary, our child custody experts are experienced and skilled advocates who will advocate for the best interests of your family. We understand the importance of presenting a strong case and will diligently work to protect your rights and secure the most favourable outcome for you and your children.

Parenting arrangements

Parenting arrangements can be recorded in different ways. Here are the options:

  1. Formal Agreement: It is not always necessary to have a formal agreement for the care arrangements. However, if desired, an agreement can be legally documented as parenting orders made by a court. These orders outline the specific arrangements for parenting and are enforceable by law.
  2. Parenting Plan: Parenting arrangements can be recorded in a more informal manner through a parenting plan. This is a written agreement that sets out the arrangements for your child’s care, living arrangements, and other important aspects of parenting. While not legally binding, parenting plans serve as a useful reference for parents to follow and can be taken into consideration by the court if there is ever a dispute.

Child custody matters

There are three important concepts to consider when it comes to child custody:

  1. Parental Responsibility: The responsibility for making decisions about a child’s long-term care, welfare, and development. It includes decisions about their education, health, and religious upbringing.
  2. Living Arrangements: Determining with whom the child primarily resides. This identifies the person or persons with whom the child lives on a day-to-day basis.
  3. Time Spent with Others: Determining who the child spends time with, apart from the person they primarily reside with. It addresses the individuals the child has contact and spends time with, including the other parent, relatives, or significant individuals in their life.

These key concepts are crucial considerations when determining parenting arrangements and ensuring the best interests of the child are upheld.

Defining parental responsibilities for both parties

When deciding on parenting arrangements, there are certain responsibilities that need to be determined, including:

  1. Sharing Parental Responsibility: Deciding how both parents will share the responsibility of making important decisions for the child.
  2. Living Arrangements: Deciding where the child will live most of the time.
  3. Time and Communication: Establishing a schedule for the child to spend time with each parent and determining how they will communicate with each other.
  4. Consultation: Setting up guidelines for how the parents will communicate with each other when making decisions about the child’s upbringing.
  5. Financial Support: Making arrangements for the financial support and maintenance of the child.
  6. Other Aspects: Addressing any other important matters related to the child’s care, well-being, and development.

These arrangements aim to provide clear guidance and structure, ensuring that both parents understand their responsibilities and that the child’s best interests are considered.

Parenting orders - the court's considerations

When making parenting orders, the court takes into account several factors:

  1. Best Interests of the Child: The court prioritises the child’s best interests when making parenting orders. This involves assessing what arrangement would promote the child’s overall well-being and safety.
  2. Equal Shared Parental Responsibility: The court begins with the presumption that it is in the child’s best interests for both parents to have equal shared parental responsibility. However, this presumption does not apply if there has been family violence or abuse.
  3. Practicality of Equal Time or Substantial and Significant Time: If equal shared parental responsibility is deemed to be in the child’s best interests, the court then considers whether it is practical and suitable for the child to spend equal time with each parent. If an equal time arrangement is not feasible, the court considers an arrangement for the child to spend “substantial and significant time” with each parent.
  4. Definition of Substantial and Significant Time: Substantial and significant time means that the child spends time with a parent on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. It allows the parent to be involved in the child’s daily routine and significant events, as well as enabling the child to participate in significant events of the parent.

It’s important to note that the court’s ultimate goal is to determine a parenting arrangement that is in the child’s best interests and takes into account their specific circumstances and needs.

Questions about?

Questions about Children and Parenting?

Parenting orders are legally binding agreements or court orders that outline the arrangements for children’s care and living arrangements after separation or divorce. They cover aspects such as custody, visitation, decision-making, and communication. Parenting orders are typically determined by considering the best interests of the child and aim to provide stability and consistency in their upbringing.

In Australia, the terms “sole custody” and “joint custody” are not commonly used. Instead, the focus is on shared parental responsibility, which encourages parents to make major decisions about the child together, even if the child primarily resides with one parent. The level of involvement and time spent with each parent can vary depending on the specific circumstances and what is deemed in the child’s best interests.

Child support in Australia is calculated based on a formula administered by the Department of Human Services (Child Support). The formula considers factors such as the income of each parent, the number of children, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children. The Child Support Agency can assist in assessing, collecting, and enforcing child support payments.

Yes, parenting arrangements can be changed or modified if there is a significant change in circumstances or if the existing arrangements are no longer in the best interests of the child. It is important to seek legal advice and, if necessary, apply to the Court to vary the parenting orders.

Mediation is a commonly used alternative dispute resolution process in children and parenting matters. It provides an opportunity for parents to discuss their concerns, explore options, and reach mutually agreeable arrangements for the care and well-being of their children. Mediation is encouraged as a way to minimise conflict, prioritise the child’s needs, and avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings.

The Child Custody Process
1.
Initial Consultation

Meet with us to discuss your priorities and get a clear understanding of the family law process. We'll provide practical recommendations on parenting and child custody and explain what you can expect throughout the process.

2.
Addressing Urgent Interim Matters

If you have immediate parenting concerns, we'll work with you to address them and create a plan for you and your children.

3.
Mediation

If suitable, we may suggest attending mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution, to help you and the other parent reach an agreement on parenting arrangements for your child.

4.
Agreement

Once you reach an agreement, we'll assist you in documenting it through consent orders or a parenting plan, ensuring that the agreement is legally recognised.

5.
Resolution and Moving Forward

With a clear plan in place, you and your children can move forward, knowing that you have certainty and a solid foundation for the future.

6.

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