Often the primary concern of parents who are separating is making arrangements for the children to spend time with both of their parents in a way that meets the needs of the children and is workable for the parents.
In the past these issues were known as custody, or child custody, and access. Many people still use these terms today and you will still hear them used in the community.
“Custody”, or “Children's Custody” and “Access” are terms that no longer have a legal meaning and the legal language we use now is about making arrangements for children to spend time with each of their parents.
Parents can often agree on arrangements without the intervention of the Family Court. Sometimes this can be achieved on their own and sometimes it is necessary to receive assistance of experts with experience in helping parents work through what is in the best interests of their individual children in their individual children in their individual circumstances.
If you are able to reach an agreement on your own Pullos Lawyers can assist you to formalise that agreement by way of either a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders and we will advise you on which method of formalising your agreement is best for you in your circumstances. If experts are required to assist in working out what is best for you and your family we can help direct you to the right ones, working closely with many on a regular basis.
Of course if all avenues are exhausted and an agreement cannot be achieved Pullos Lawyers will guide you through and represent you in Court process. Your case will be heard in either the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court.
How do we work out time between parents?
There are many factors the Court is required to take into account in determining what is in the best interests of your children and there are also many misconceptions about how those factors are worked out and the rules that apply.
One of the most common misconceptions is that shared care, or equal time, or 50/50 time, is automatically applied to every family.
There is a requirement that the Court consider the possibility of shared care in defined circumstances as a first option but in considering that arrangement as a first option the Judge must look at factors such as practicality, the age of the children, the relationship between the children and their parents and the overriding consideration of what is in the child’s best interests.
Who can apply to the court in relation to children?
Regardless of whether children are born to parents who are or have been married, living in a defacto relationship or have never married nor have never lived in a defacto relationship, it is the principles set out in the Family Law Act that apply to all children and all parents, including grandparents or other people who might have a legitimate interest in a child. It will be the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court that will decide your case in relation to your children, regardless of the status of your relationship as parents.
Grandparents, and sometimes other relatives or people unrelated but who have an interest in the wellbeing of a child also want to ensure they maintain their relationship with a child and we can advise grandparents and others about their rights and responsibilities as well.
In some circumstances relatives, as well as unrelated interested persons can ask the Court to make an order that children live with them, either permanently or on a temporary basis.
All the solicitors at Pullos Lawyers have the experience necessary to bring these matters before the Court and to advise you about your individual circumstances. Please contact us and we can advise you further.
Do we have to go to court?
Before going to Court, most parents will be required to undertake Family Dispute Resolution Counselling with a certified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. The Federal Government has set up Family Relationship Centres in many areas across the country to provide this service to parents. Private Dispute Resolution Practitioners are also available to be engaged by parents.
There are exceptions to this requirement for Family Dispute Resolution Counseling and we can advise you whether these exceptions might apply to you and what alternatives might be available to try and resolve your dispute.