Decisions will likely need to be made about how parental responsibility is to be allocated, with whom children will live with and spend time and to facilitate co-parenting between separated parents.
Under the Family Law Act, there is a presumption that both parents will have equal shared parental responsibility and jointly make decisions about long-term issues in relation to their children. Where there is equal shared parental responsibility for a child, the court must consider whether it is in that child’s best interests and reasonably practicable to spend equal time with each parent or, if not, then to live with one parent and spend substantial and significant time with the other parent. This does not mean that a child must spend equal time with each parent or that a parent has any “entitlement” to such time.
If you are able to reach an agreement regarding parenting arrangements, you can ask the court to make orders by consent without the need to attend a court hearing. Alternatively, you may enter into a parenting plan, which will not be binding or enforceable but which a court may have regard to in the event of future disagreements.
People other than parents can also seek to be involved in a child’s care or decisions about a child, including grandparents and others concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child.
If you cannot reach an agreement regarding arrangements for a child, you can apply to the court for parenting orders provided you have first complied with the court’s mandatory pre-action procedures, including attending Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), unless an exception to those requirements applies.
In making decisions, the court must determine what is in a child’s best interests. In doing so, the court considers a wide range of factors and the particular circumstances of each individual child and their family. Commonly the court will have regard to independent evidence from an expert psychologist or counsellor in the form of a family report. In certain cases, the court may also order the appointment of an independent children’s lawyer.
Taussig Cherrie Fildes assists parents by advising on, negotiating and formalising appropriate arrangements. We also assist other significant people in a child’s life such as grandparents and former step-parents.
Where appropriate, our lawyers can support you to arrange and attend Family Dispute Resolution, mediation and/or counselling, and to prepare parenting plans and applications for consent orders. We can also assist to make applications to the court where required.
We have the expertise to assist with complex parenting issues where required, including where safety concerns arise from family violence and abuse, where urgent orders for the location and recovery of children are required, in relocation cases, travel and passport orders, disputes about decision-making (such as schooling or medical treatment) and international parenting cases.
A number of our specialist lawyers are recognised in Doyles Guide as leading parenting and children’s matters lawyers, highlighted for their expertise, abilities and experience in complex parenting/child custody issues and disputes.