Custody Rights: 5 Things Recently Separated Parents Should Know

Custody - things recently separated parents should know

If you and your spouse or partner have recently separated, your life is stressful enough. Worrying about what will happen to your children can make it more difficult.

Surround yourself and your children with supportive friends and family and keep their routines intact as much as you can. If you are in physical danger, contact the police for immediate help and to obtain resources for staying safe.

Separating From Your Spouse Or Partner Is A Big Step

Try to take one step at a time and don’t make decisions in the heat of an argument. Get plenty of family support during this time and consult with a lawyer who understands your rights and your children’s rights.

Making good and reasoned decisions now will help you in the long term, even if you decide not to file for divorce. You will be helping your children to better navigate the new family-life they find themselves in at the moment.

The Family Law Act Governs All Separation And Divorce Matters Affecting Children

It applies regardless of whether you are married to, or in a de facto relationship with the other parent. The law helps make good decisions for yourself and your children.

Remember that you are going through one of the most difficult times you will face in your lifetime. It is understandable if you don’t know all of the answers right now and are confused about what to do.

We are here to help you and answer your questions about the separation and divorce process.

You Can Make An Informal Agreement With Your Spouse Or Partner

Generally, both parents want to agree on what is best for their children. Many succeed in coming up with a child-custody plan both can agree on. Many don’t. For those who are not able to agree on parenting issues, a variety of help is available.

You could look to a mediation service or a non-profit organisation to help you resolve your differences. It’s not always easy to be objective about your own life. Sometimes a neutral party can help you understand what works best for you and your children.

Be aware that an informal agreement may not be enforceable in court. It is a child custody and visitation arrangement that you may not have written and signed.

Or, Take The Next Step And Draft A Parenting-Plan “Contract”

If you are unable to agree informally on parenting issues and visitation schedules, you might consider creating a Parenting Plan. It can help you avoid conflicts in the future.

With the help of a family law attorney, you can draft an agreement with your spouse or partner that is enforceable in court. You can settle custody rights before filing for divorce.

Common Issues to Think Through

Consider how you would handle the following common issues that come up before or during the divorce process:

  • Moving your children to a different neighborhood, school, city or country
  • Changing their last names
  • Obtaining a passport or traveling out of the country
  • Which vacation time is spent with each parent
  • Visitation schedule
  • Medical treatment or disability issues
  • Communication with schools and counselors
  • School tuition and summer camp or daycare expenses.

The court will always consider what is best for the children while balancing that with the parents’ often conflicting needs. A Parenting Plan can give you more certainty in the long term.

In the event you move forward with getting a divorce, you’ve already got most of the parenting issues resolved.

If You’re Ready To File For Divorce

If you’ve been separated for 12 months, you can file for divorce. Even if you are still living in the same house for financial reasons, you may still be able to prove a twelve-month separation. Divorces are filed as “no fault” divorces.

However, at the time of initial separation, you should start to make decisions about how to divide your property and what income you need to support yourself and your children. Then, you will have many of the pieces in place to help you legally terminate your marriage.

If you decide to terminate your marriage before you’ve agreed on many of these difficult issues, you must start property and maintenance proceedings within twelve months of the divorce.

Contact Us About Separation And The Divorce Process

Taylor & Scott’s family law attorneys are among Sydney’s leading and most experienced divorce attorneys.

Since 1905, we have been been helping our clients through the divorce process and child custody issues.

One of our experienced lawyers will be happy to provide a no-obligation free initial assessment of your case, drawing upon the firm’s century of legal experience.


At Taylor & Scott “We Care For You”.

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