Separate Parenting

Child
Focussed

family and fertility lawyers

Splitting up, while hard on parents, is even harder on kids.

Arrangements between parents following a separation can be difficult and stressful. In many relationships that break down there has been a history of domestic violence.

One of the most important decisions separating parents must make is where the children will live and how much time they should spend with the other parent. Most separating parents are able to reach an agreement about their kids, sometimes with the assistance of a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (or mediator).

Obtaining Legal Advice

It’s essential that you obtain advice as soon as possible either before or after separation from an experienced specialist family lawyer so that you are aware of your rights, entitlements and obligations, and ensure that your kid’s best interests are protected. Obtaining good quality legal advice will often put you in a stronger negotiating position. It is important to get good legal advice before you go to family dispute resolution, so you know what the likely outcomes might be, and what are realistic options for you and your kids.

How we help you

We are very experienced and highly skilled in helping parents to navigate parenting matters. We listen to your goals, wishes and concerns. We place a high importance on assisting clients to reduce conflict and maintain respect in the co-parenting relationship after separation. Most likely you will need to have a co-parenting relationship with the other parent for many years. Parenting doesn’t cease for most people when their kids get to primary school, or high school or even when they turn 18. Parenting is a life long commitment you make to your kids.

Separate Parenting Single parent

Child focussed practical advice

We look at practical ways to reduce the conflict for your kids, and to help you focus to put their needs first. This might include referring you to a counsellor to help you deal with the impact of separation both on you and on your kids.

In advising clients, we sometimes seek the assistance of counsellors, psychologists and social workers who can act as experts in the Family Law Courts if required. We can advise you on how to best utilise the skills of these professionals.

In most cases we encourage parents to stay out of the court system because it is not only stressful for the parents, it often impacts badly upon the welfare of the children. If the matter can’t be resolved out of court, then we will advocate strongly on your behalf and often engage other experts such as barristers to assist. All our team are skilled advocates who are capable of effectively presenting and arguing a case in court.

Separate Parenting Group of children

What happens if your case goes to court?

If the case proceeds to a trial the judge will make a decision often with the assistance of a family report or an independent children’s lawyer, who is appointed to represent the best interests of the children. However, in most cases judges won’t see or meet your children. Agreements reached by parents often will last the test of time better than those imposed by courts. Parents after all know their kids. Judges don’t, but try to do their best. For those reasons, it is usually preferable for parents to reach agreement between themselves. We can assist you with that process in making informed choices, and then properly formalising any agreement reached.

In making a decision, the judge needs to take into account a range of factors, which are set out in the Family Law Act. Those factors are explained in the attached brochure.

Further advice

We can also advise you regarding other aspects of the care of the children including:

  • Urgent applications, including child abduction
  • International child abduction, including bringing or defending applications under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention and the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention
  • Child protection
  • Relocation (nationally and internationally)
  • Recovery orders and location applications
  • Time spent with grandparents and relatives
  • Child support
  • Adoption, including international, step-parent and relative adoption

For international matters, we work closely with overseas colleagues in a team approach to make sure that our clients receive clear, consistent, child focussed advice.

Formalising agreement about your kids

If you reach an agreement with the other parent of your child, it is important that it is properly documented. We can explain the options available to you including parenting plans, court orders and/or child support agreements.

Often the devil is in the detail. We focus on both what can go right and trying to avoid what can go wrong. It is important to get the detail right- while remaining focussed on the deal- so that you and your children have a practical outcome that works.

Contact Us For Separate Parenting Assistance

We work to resolve your dispute quickly and amicably

Child Custody FAQ’s

How does the court decide child custody?
The court decides parenting matters based upon what is in the best interests of the children. The Family Law Act set out a list of factors required to be taken into account in determining the best interests of children. Those factors are set out in the attached brochure.
If we can’t agree on parenting arrangements is it automatically 50/50 or equal time?
The court must consider making an order for equal time if it has made an order for equal shared parental responsibility (which it does in most cases). However, this does not mean that there is automatically equal time and in many cases the court will decide that children should spend more time with one parent than the other. Just how much time depends upon a number of factors and each case is different. You should obtain legal advice before entering into negotiations for arrangements for the children.
What if I want to relocate (move to another city or town) with my children?
It is essential that you obtain legal advice before doing so. If you relocate without the knowledge and consent of the other parent, they can make an application to court and most likely the court will make an order for you to return with the children. It is likely that the case will be determined at the nearest registry to where you are currently living. The case will then be decided based upon the best interests of the children and at that stage you may be able to relocate with the children.
What if my former partner is harming my children?

You should seek legal advice immediately. Depending upon the evidence, the circumstances and the degree of harm, you may be justified in some circumstances in preventing your former partner from seeing or spending time with the children. If there is a court order in place, you may only breach the order if you have a reasonable excuse for doing so (such as to protect the health or safety of you or the children). It is important that you get legal advice because if you breach a court order without justification penalties may apply.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is an informal document signed by both parents agreeing on arrangements for the children. Whilst a Parenting plan is not legally binding, a court is required to have regard to the terms of the Parenting plan if doing so would be in the best interests of the children. Therefore it is important to obtain legal advice before entering into a Parenting plan even though it is an informal agreement.