When you separate, determining the appropriate arrangements for your children can be difficult. However, any arrangements that are made must be in the best interests of your children. It can often become a conflict between two parents, who both believe that are acting with the children’s best interests at heart.
In determining the childrens best interest, the Family Court have regard to the following.
- The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.
- The benefit to children of having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
- The child’s views and factors that might affect those views, such as the child’s maturity and level of understanding.
- The relationship of the child with each parent and other people, including grandparents and other relatives.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and nurturing relationship between the child and the other parent.
- The effect any change of circumstances on the child being separated from a parent or person with whom the child has been living. This also includes a grandparent, relatives or other family members.
- The practical difficulty and associated expenses of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent.
- Each parent’s ability (and that of any other person) to provide for the child’s needs.
- The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of the child and of either of the child’s parents.
- The attitude of each parent to the child and to the responsibilities of parenthood.
- The right of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to enjoy his or her culture and the impact a proposed parenting order may have on that right.
- Any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family.
- Any family violence order that applies to the child or a member of the child’s family, if:
a) The order is a final order, or
b) The making of the order was contested by a person
- Whether it would be preferable to make the order that would be least likely to lead to further court applications and hearings in relation to the child.
There is a presumption that both parents should equally share parental responsibility for their children. This does not mean that time with each parent should be equal, but means that both parents, where appropriate, make important decisions in relation to the children, for example, their educational or medical needs.
There are however, some circumstances where such arrangements are simply not practical, or in the bests interests of the children.
Contentious Parenting Matters
If you are unable to reach an agreement in relation to parenting matters, there are various options available to you. These include, alternative dispute resolution, mediation, or Family Court proceedings. Knowing which option is most suitable for your circumstances will require the advice of an experienced family lawyer.
Prior to commencing Family Court proceedings in respect to parenting matters, the parties must have first attempted mediation, also known as Family Dispute Resolution (link to Relationships Australia/Anglicare FDR).
Non-Contentious Parenting Matters
If you are able to reach a parenting agreement, without the intervention of the Family Court, it is important that this arrangement is formalised into consent orders. By doing so, both parties, and your children are afforded structure and stability for the future.
At Affinitas Legal, our Family Lawyers can assist with all aspects of parenting disputes and assist you to reach a child-focused parenting arrangement. If you would like more tailored advice in respect to your specific parenting circumstances, please contact us for a consultation.