Decisions should be made regarding how parental responsibility is to be allocated and with whom the children will live with and spend time.
Under the Family Law Act, there is a presumption that both parents will have equal, shared parental responsibility and jointly make major long-term decisions affecting their children. Where there is equal shared parental responsibility for a child, the court must consider whether it is reasonably practicable for the children to spend equal time with each parent, or alternatively substantial and significant time and whether it is in the child’s best interests. This does not mean that the 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 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, although the plan will not be binding or enforceable.
If you cannot reach an agreement regarding arrangements, you can apply to the court for orders provided you have first attended Family Dispute Resolution counselling.
In making decisions, the court must consider what is in the child’s best interests. In doing so, the court considers a wide range of factors and the particular circumstances of the case. Commonly the court will have regard to independent evidence from a 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. If appropriate, we will refer you to services including counselling and family dispute resolution.