Working out when your children will spend time with you and when they will spend time with your ex is tricky isn’t it?
Here are some tips:-
You need to consider what is in a child’s best interest when it comes to spending time with both parents.
The Family Law Act focusses on the rights of children. These rights include the fundamental right that children have the right to know and have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Also fundamental in these rights is the right to be protected from physical or psychological harm and being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
Other factors to consider:-
- Any views expressed by the child;
- The nature of the relationship between the child and either parent or any other significant person in the child’s life (such as grandparents);
- The extent that each parent has taken, or failed to take, the opportunity to participate in making decisions about the long term issues for the child (such as schooling, religion, access to culture etc), as well as spending time with the child or communicating with the child;
- The extent to which either parent has fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, their obligations to maintain the child;
- The capacity of either parent to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs; and
- The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background (including lifestyle, culture and traditions) of the child and of either of the child’s parents, and any other characteristics of the child that the Court considers relevant.
Children spending time with mum and dad on weekends and week nights
Typically the Courts will want the child to spend time with both parent’s on both week nights and on weekends so both parents have the opportunity to be involved in the child’s daily routine, including homework, extra curricular activities, social events etc. Most cases will ultimately see the children spending either equal time with both parents on a shared care or week about basis, or living with one parent and spending significant and substantial time with the other parent, which is typically four to five nights per fortnight.
Do I need to go to mediation first before going to Court?
Yes, unless an exception applies.
From 1 July 2007, except in limited circumstances, the Courts are unable to hear an application for parenting orders without a certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner.
The family dispute resolution requirement is only compulsory for parents who want to go to Court over a parenting issue. However all parents are encouraged to engage in this process to reach a child focused agreement about future parenting arrangements.
There are a number of exceptions that apply where you may not necessarily be required to attend dispute resolution. These exceptions include the following situations:
- Where parents have agreed on parenting arrangements and wish to file an application for consent orders in the Court
- If there are already Court proceedings on foot and a further application needs to be made for procedural or interim orders
- Where family violence or child abuse is involved
- Where a parenting order has already been made and within 12 months one parent has contravened the order
- Where the matter is urgent
Where parents are unable to come to an agreement about plans for their children themselves, you may need to go to Court for decisions to be made.
The Court is required to consider principles in the Family Law Act 1975 and to make parenting arrangements which are in the best interests of the children.
Generally the Court assumes that it is in the best interests of children for both of their parents to share parental responsibility for them. This means both parents should jointly make decisions about long term decisions in relation to the care and welfare of the children such as what school a child attends, what religion (if any) they worship and the child’s health needs.
- The child spending equal time with each parent; and
- The child living with one parent and spending substantial and significant time with the other parent, including week, weekend and holiday time.
Where it is practical, the Court focuses on facilitating shared parenting provided that the child is not subject to any risk of harm in either household, and provided such arrangement would be in the best interests of the child.
What if a Parenting Order is Breached?
When a parenting order is made, each person affected by the order must follow the order.
Contravention of parenting Court orders can be very serious. If your ex-partner has contravened Court orders, you may be able to take action. The consequences for breaching Court Orders can range from a fine, good behaviour bond and in serious cases imprisonment.
I want to relocate to another State or Country with my child so what should I do?
If the child lives with you and you want to relocate to another State or Country with the child, you should firstly seek consent in writing from the other parent to relocate. We can then assist you with formalising the new parenting arrangements prior to your relocation.
In the event that you are unable to obtain permission from the other parent to relocate then we can assist you with applying to the Court for a parenting order to allow you to relocate with the child. The Court will consider what is in the best interests of the child and this means looking at the reasons why you wish to relocate such as employment, support, accommodation, schooling and how the relocation may affect the child’s time with the other parent.
We have helped so many parents to relocate with their children interstate and have also stopped a number of relocations as well, so we know what we are doing. Call us now on 1300 768 719 to take the next step.