Children and Parenting Issues
Separation and divorce can be a confusing and traumatic time for both you and your children, especially if the children see you struggle to resolve issues about where they should live and how much time they should spend with their Mum and Dad. Prompt and professional legal advice can help you and your spouse reach an agreement more swiftly and protect the interests of your children.
The Federal government has introduced family laws that focus on the rights of children rather than those of their parents.
The Family Court will continue to consider the best interests of children to be "paramount" at all times. However, there is now a presumption that it is in the best interests of children for their parents to have "equal shared responsibility".
This does not mean that it is automatically in the best interests of children to spend equal time with their parents. What it "does" mean is that parents should have meaningful involvement in the lives of their children and share jointly all duties and responsibilities for their children.
There is now a new language used in relation to child and parenting issues.
- Guardianship - is now known as "parental responsibility".
- Custody - was previously known as residence but is now referred to as simply who children will "live with".
- Access - was previously known as contact. The court will now simply make orders about how children and parents "spend time", or "communicate" with each other.
What you need to consider for your child
When making arrangements for your children, you will need to consider a number of significant issues such as -
- Where the children will live?
- How their time will be divided between households?
- What the parenting arrangements will be?
- If the children live with one parent most of the time, when will they spend time or communicate with the other parent and other close family members?
- Who will look after them after school?
- Where will they spend holidays?
- Arrangements for things such as schooling, health care, sport, or religious matters.
- The ages of the children and (if applicable) any views they may have about where they would like to live and how much time they would like to spend with each of their parents. Keep in mind that the needs and obligations towards a five-year-old will vary significantly from that of an adolescent.