Parenting Arrangements

Family law covers care and also welfare arrangements for children, between their parents and other carers who may include other family members such as a grandparent.  Separation does not change your responsibilities and rights as a parent. 
The Courts and the law are focused on ensuring that the best interests of children are met. In essence, the child or children having the benefit of both parents’ meaningful involvement in their lives and that they are protected from physical or psychological harm.
There are no hard and fast rules about the time that a child or children should live with or spend with either parent.  There is a misconception that time should be equal (week about) in all cases.  This is not always so.  There are many factors that the Court will take into consideration when determining the living arrangements for a child or children.

Some of the things the Courts look at include:

  • The age of and view of the child(ren)
  • Whether there are any other siblings and the possible effect to any change in living arrangements
  • The role each parent will have in encouraging a continued and close relationship between the child(ren) and the other parent
  • Any family violence involving the child(ren) or a member of their family including any Final Contested Intervention Order that includes either the child(ren) or a member of the child(ren)’s family
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child(ren)’s physical, emotional and intellectual needs
  • The maturity, background (including culture and traditions), sex and lifestyle of the child(ren) and of each parent.

There is a requirement before initiating a Court Application to attend Mediation (see Mediation. Do I Need to go?)

If Mediation does not successfully resolve your parenting dispute then you may need to seek the assistance of a Court to determine the living arrangement for the children and whom they should spend time with.  Most matters will end up in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia.  At the first or second hearing the Court will usually direct that a psychologist or counsellor be appointed to prepare a welfare or family report on the family.  The professional will meet with the family and the children and then provide a confidential report to the Court and parties with recommendations.  This will be useful in trying to resolve the matter.

The Court also has the option in some cases of appointing a lawyer especially for the children ...

This person is called the Independent Children’s Lawyer.  They are appointed to look after the children’s legal interests.

The Trial or Final Hearing

If still no resolution can be achieved then a trial date (final hearing) will be set down, at which time your case will be presented to the Court.  You and your witnesses will be required to give evidence in the witness box.  A trial involves your lawyers in conjunction with a barrister, a special type of lawyer that spends most of their time in Court representing clients.  Discussion of the Court process can be dealt with in your appointment with Duane Portway Family Law.