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Children and Parenting Matters

Australian Family Law, insofar as it relates to children and parenting matters, is designed to protect the child’s best interests. If you are struggling to reach a post-separation parenting arrangement with your former partner Taylor & Scott Lawyers can help.

What parenting challenges are commonly faced in Australia?

When making decisions that affect a child, the focus should be on the child’s best interests. In most cases, separated or divorced parents come to an agreement facilitated by joint discussions, but there can be a lot of challenges to overcome. Whether you make an independent agreement, a lawyer assisted agreement, or apply for Parenting Orders through the Family Court, there are numerous issues to consider, including::

  • The allocation of parental responsibility;
  • Living arrangements during school term and holidays;
  • Meaningful communication between children and both parents;
  • Terms and conditions for children travelling overseas with a parent;
  • Changeover arrangements; and
  • Arrangements for special occasions such as birthdays, Easter and Christmas.

The above considerations are typical of most Australian children and parenting matters that need to be resolved. In other cases, an immediate resolution is required to guarantee the health and safety of children, such as incidents of physical or mental abuse, drug or alcohol use, and mental health issues.

Usually, the reality of a separation is that both parents will be unable to spend as much time with their child as they otherwise would have.  The Court is tasked with having to determine how much time the child should spend with each parent in the unfortunate context of the child’s parents having separated.

As stated above the Family Law Act 1975, insofar as it relates to parenting matters, is concerned with the child’s best interests.  The Act does not create rights for parents.  In determining the child’s best interests, the Act provides that the Court is to give primary consideration to the need to ensure that the child benefits from a meaningful relationship with both parents, to the extent that such a relationship is consistent with protecting the child from harm.  It is rarely going to be the case that it is in the child’s best interests to suddenly be removed from the person who was their primary carer prior to separation, whether that person is the father or the mother.

Father reconnected with children

How are parenting arrangements dealt with in Australia?

Parenting arrangements in Australia can be formalised through the Family Court. Orders are made in the best interests of the child, and the Orders, once made, are binding.  Prior to establishing court orders, you may consider entering into a parenting plan with the assistance of a specialist Taylor & Scott Family Lawyer.  Parenting plans are unenforceable written agreements relating to post-separation parenting arrangements which are useful for separated couples who enjoy an amicable relationship with their former spouse or partner, and who wish to reduce a parenting arrangement to writing, without the rigidity of Court Orders. Taylor & Scott Family Lawyers can assist you in drafting a parenting plan, if you feel that such an option is right for you. Although not a legally enforceable agreement, it can be used as evidence at a later date should you wish to pursue a binding parenting order established by the court.

Except in cases involving family violence, parents should consider that it would be in their child’s best interests for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility. If orders are made for equal shared parental responsibility, parents are required to consult one another and come to a joint decision with respect to major long-term issues involving the child, including issues pertaining to the child’s religion, school, address.

Parenting agreements can take several forms:

  • A verbal agreement;
  • A written parenting plan;
  • A binding consent order attained through the Family Court.

What is the most important consideration in parenting cases?

The ‘child’s best interests’ is the most important consideration in parenting cases.  Relevant factors in determining a child’s best interests include (but are not limited to):

  • The need to protect the child from risk of harm;
  • The need to ensure the child has a meaningful relationship with both parents;
  • The age of the child;
  • Special needs of the child;
  • Educational assistance for the child;
  • Practical considerations related to housing and finances; and
  • The child’s own views on what may be best for them, pending assessment as to their maturity.

How can Taylor & Scott help with Australian parenting matters?

Taylor & Scott Lawyers have been assisting parents and their children since the firm was established in 1905, and we remain committed to achieving fair and equitable outcomes for everyone. Our specialist family lawyers are among the best in the business and remain up to date with Australian Family Law as it continues to evolve during the 21st Century.

Located in the heart of Sydney’s legal and financial district, Taylor & Scott Lawyers are accessible, courteous and ready to support your needs and those of your child/children. If you require guidance, insight, support or the full weight of experienced and professional legal backing to strengthen your parenting matters position, we are on your side.

At Taylor & Scott, We Care For You.