Following separation it is important that appropriate arrangements for your children are made as soon as possible. Decisions need to be made about how the responsibilities of the children will be shared, who the children should live with and who they should spend time with and when.
Many separating parents are able to amicably negotiate ongoing arrangements for their children and the court may make orders defining those arrangements with the consent of the parents or parents may enter into a parenting plan.
Sadly it is not always the case that arrangements for children can be agreed upon. If you and your former spouse or partner cannot agree on appropriate arrangements for your children you can ask the court to set out those arrangements by make a “parenting order”. In most cases, before that application can be made, you must attend a mediation known as family dispute resolution to see if agreement can be reached before the involvement of the court is required.
The Family Law Act sets out a presumption that both parents should have equal, shared responsibility to jointly make major decisions affecting their children’s future. If the court applies this presumption then the court must consider the children spending equal time with each parent and then substantial and significant time.
In making parenting orders the court must consider what is in the best interests of your children and a wide range of factors are considered. If you find yourself involved in Court proceedings you are likely to find that the Judge expects that you demonstrate through your attitude and actions that you prioritise your children’s best interests. Sometimes it is appropriate for the court to order that a report from a family report writer be obtained about these matters.
Frampton Legal can assist parents by advising them about parenting arrangements and how to formalise or achieve appropriate parenting arrangements. As the concept and shape of families have changed significantly over the years we have been called upon more and more frequently to advise other people in children’s lives such as grandparents and aunties and uncles who want to remain a significant part of the children’s lives to formalise those arrangements. Where appropriate we are also able to refer you to helpful parenting services such as counselling and family dispute resolution so that all appropriate avenues are considered before the court is asked to make a decision.
There is no substitute for specialised family law advice so if you have questions about separation or want to know your legal position please feel free to book a confidential appointment. We can assist you at all stages of the process, regardless of the path taken. Our lawyers provide advice based on the relevant facts and the individual needs of each client. No two cases or outcomes will be the same.
For answers to frequently asked questions about arrangements for children please go to our FAQ page.