Parenting Matters

One of the key objects of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) focuses on the importance of both parents playing a meaningful and active role in the lives of their children after they have separated.

Understandably, parents sometimes differ in their views about how the needs of their child/ren are best met in the context of the objects set out above and the specific circumstances of their separation.

Our lawyers can advise you about the presumption in the law that parents have equal parental responsibility for their children and can advise and assist with arrangements about who children will live with and spend time with.

​We can also advise about arrangements for children to live with or spend time with their grandparents.

​The first pre-action procedure is for each party to attempt dispute resolution. The Court will require a dispute resolution certifcate before a parenting application can be filed. However, in some circumstances such as family violence, abuse or urgency, this requirement will be waived.

If parties cannot come to a resolution about parenting matters, then the next step is to file documents with the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court. Approximately 1-2 months after filing, an ‘Interim Hearing’ date will be set. A Judge will read the filed documents of each party and make a decision on Parenting Orders. The Parenting Orders will cover;

  • Parental responsibility about decision making;
  • With whom the child is to live with; and
  • The amount of time with which a child will be allowed to spend or communicate with the parent.

When making Orders, if there is the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, then the Courts must consider whether ‘equal time’ is in the best interest of the child and reasonably practicable. If not, the Courts will consider ‘substantial and significant time’ e.g. 4-6 nights per fortnight is appropriate. If an Order for ‘substantial and significant’ time is not made, then the Courts will consider what other option is in the best interest of the child as well as reasonably practicable.

The Court will take into consideration the ‘best interest of the children’ as well as the following additional factors:

  • The views expressed by the child taking into account the child’s maturity and understanding;
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with the parents; and other persons (including grandparents)
  • The willingness of the parents to encourage a relationship between children and the other parent;
  • The effects of the proposed changes on the child’s circumstances including separation from parents; or any other child or person they have been living with;
  • The practicality and expense of communication and affect on relationships it may have;
  • The capacity of the parents and other persons to provide for the child’s needs;
  • The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of the children and their parents;
  • If the child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, the right to enjoy their culture with others who share it;
  • The attitude of the parents to parenting;
  • Family violence;
  • Family violence orders;
  • Orders that are likely to resolve issues rather than create further recourse to litigation; and
  • Other factors the Court deems relevant.

Contact our professional team and let us resolve your matter.

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