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Children’s Matters

Each parent has full parental responsibility for their children until they reach 18, unless a Court orders otherwise. This does not change simply because you separate or remarry. When parties who have children under 18 separate it is important that the parties are able to remain focused on the best interests of each child in considering what arrangements are to be made for their ongoing welfare, care and development. By doing so you will spend less money, time and energy, but most importantly it will be easier on your children. We are able to help you keep that focus to achieve the right result for your family sooner.

The Family Law Act sets out a number of important principles in relation to children:

  • Children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents;
  • Children have a right to spend time, and communicate, on a regular basis with both their parents and other people who are significant to them;
  • Parents jointly share duties and responsibilities regarding their children;
  • Parents should agree about the future parenting of their children;
  • Children have a right to enjoy their culture; and
  • When the court is asked to make decisions about children, it must regard the best interests of the child as being the paramount consideration.

Agreements once reached can be made informally or registered with the Family Court. If you cannot agree you can apply to the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court to make orders concerning your children. The Family Court can make orders governing:

  • who children live with
  • who they spend time with
  • how much time they spend with parents, grandparents or other interested parties
  • who is to have parental responsibility
  • any other aspect of children’s welfare, care and development

Before making an application to Court (other than in exceptional circumstances, such as where there is family violence or urgency) parties are obliged to make a genuine effort to resolve matters by agreement. The Family Court has set out the steps which parties are to take to attempt to resolve matters by agreement which are known as pre-action procedures. In most cases this involves obtaining a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner certifying that a genuine effort has been made to resolve the parenting matter.

The Court process is heavily geared towards involving the parties in reaching an outcome for all children’s matters. The Court facilitates mediation with the assistance of the parties’ lawyers and input from a Mediator or Registrar. We can assist you to reach agreement by advising you as to the likely outcome which can be achieved through litigation, by assisting in the conduct of negotiations and by bringing our experience of the thousands of matters in which we have acted in drafting children’s orders.

Amendments to the Family Law Act in 2006 provide that the Court must consider an equal or shared parenting arrangement being put in place. We have experience in distinguishing when the circumstances arise where it is appropriate to do so and mounting your best case either for or against your children spending equal time with each parent.

Our large team of Family lawyers including male and female Accredited Specialists in Family Law bring our combined experience of over 50 years including acting for parents, grandparents and acting in the role of Independent Children’s Lawyer before the Family Court of Australia to benefit you in achieving the best possible outcome.

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    Parenting Disputes

    When relationships break down and children are involved it is almost inevitable that each party will have differing views on what is best for the children. Disputes between parents, even if they don’t occur in the presence or hearing of the children can impact on a child’s well being, their sense of security and their long term development.

    Often times there is an imbalance of power between parties, whether because of one party having a greater share of financial resources, one party having greater time with the children, or because of a history of violence or intimidation in the relationship. Legal representation can assist to remove that inequality and prevent the baggage from a broken relationship from impacting on a resolution of parenting disputes.

    Our large team of Family lawyers including male and female Accredited Specialists in Family Law can:

    • Refer you to a suitable counsellor or mediator to resolve your parenting disputes
    • Advise you early on the range of orders which might be appropriate to your circumstances
    • Prepare you for mediation by arming you with a proposal tailored to the needs of your children and the circumstances of your family
    • Represent you in negotiations to avoid the necessity for court proceedings
    • Represent you in Court to put your case forward in mediation and before a Judge or Federal Magistrate

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