Children

The breakdown of any relationship is an extremely stressful and traumatic time for all. Children in particular suffer enormous emotional turmoil and anxiety proximate to the breakdown of your relationship. In the case of children, their anxiety is magnified by their inability to resolve family disputes. Family breakdown is something that happens around children and any reconciliation is beyond the control of children.

Family life is naturally disrupted as a consequence of the breakdown of your relationship. To minimise the impact of family breakdown on children, resolving the future parenting arrangements in a positive and timely fashion must be given the greatest priority by separating parents.

The main focus when determining future parenting arrangements is always the best interests of the children.

 

Children have the right to enjoy a significant and an ongoing relationship with both of their parents, unless such an arrangement is contrary to the best interests of the children.

 

In the absence of a Court Order to the contrary, both parents continue to have authority and responsibility for making decisions regarding the welfare of their children. This is referred to as joint parental responsibility. The Family Law Act talks about the rights of children and the responsibilities of parents, there is no provision in the Act for parental rights.

 

Most parents are able to agree on reasonable arrangements for the care of their children following the breakdown of their relationship. Such arrangements should include an agreement as to where the children live, when they see each of their parents, what will happen during school holidays, what is to happen on Christmas day and other special days and communication between the children and parents.

 

Informal arrangements, often referred to as parenting plans, are not enforceable by the Courts. To avoid future disputes, informal arrangements should always be formalised by way of parenting orders made by the Court referred to as Consent Orders. Consent Orders can be made with relative ease and inexpense provided both parties are agreeable to the arrangements.

 

For those separating parents who are having difficulty reaching agreement about the future arrangements for their children, it may be necessary for the Court to make Orders with respect to the arrangements for their children. Prior to making such Orders, the Court requires the parents to attempt to resolve their dispute utilising Alternative Dispute resolution techniques referred to as pre-action procedures. Pre-action procedures include formal and informal negotiations, mediation and counselling. For a full list of pre-action procedures, please see the attached family law brochure pre-action procedures. The requirements are different for parenting applications and financial Orders.

Download. Click here to download the Financial Pre-Action Procedures Brochure.

Download. Click here to download the Parenting Pre-Action Procedures Brochure.

If parenting issues cannot be resolved after attending dispute resolution, the applicant must obtain a section 60I certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner under the Family Law Act before commencing proceedings.

 

In limited circumstances it is not necessary to obtain a section 60I certificate before commencing proceedings for parenting orders. Those circumstances include where there has been abuse of the child by one of the parties, where there is risk of abuse of children in the absence of an order, where there has been family violence, for an application for contravention of a Court Order or where there is the need for an urgent Order.

Information. Click here to view Section 60Iof the Family Law Act.

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