The breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship is often one of the most traumatic and stressful experiences of your life. This is often exacerbated if there are children of the relationship, and they are likely to be experiencing their own trauma as a result of the separation, especially if there are conflicts related to child custody arrangements.
It is always going to be better for your children if you and the other parent can communicate in a civil and respectful manner and reach a mutual agreement about arrangements that will be best for your children. However, it is not always possible to reach an agreement about all aspects of the parenting arrangements. In the event of a dispute in relation to child custody arrangements it is most important that you obtain specialist advice about:
- the resources that are available to assist you and the other parent to reach agreement about the future arrangements for the children, such as Parenting After Separation programs and literature by child psychologists;
- the options available for formalising any agreement reached in the event there is a need to have the parenting agreement reflected in writing;
- the avenues you can take where no agreement can be reached between you and your former spouse or partner.
Parenting (child custody) arrangements
Throughout the process of working out parenting arrangements after separation, it is important to understand and keep in mind how the law determines parenting arrangements when there is no agreement between parties, and what principles are followed when making such a determination. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is the primary, national law that governs parenting arrangements for children.
The Family Law Act requires the court to consider the need to protect the rights of children and to promote their welfare, and the main consideration is the child’s best interests. Parenting arrangements are determined by focusing on what’s best for the child rather than the wishes of the parents.
The issues that commonly arise in relation to parenting arrangements (relating to child custody) include:
- how to make important decisions about children – for example the choice of school, medical treatment and religion;
- who the children will live with and how much time they will spend with the other parent or any other significant person such as grandparents or step parents;
- whether children travel overseas;
- whether the interests of the children are affected by issues such as family violence, sexual abuse, drug use or mental illness;
- whether the children should relocate to another town, city or country with one parent;
- special medical procedures for children requiring permission from the Family Court;
- whether a child’s name should be changed.
How we can help
Navigating the family law process can be a difficult and stressful task particularly when you have the additional stressors arising from a separation. If you need assistance to find your way and would like advice about child custody including setting up a parenting arrangement or would like advice or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal on 1300 038 223 or send us an email to make an appointment.