When couples decide to get divorced, one of the most difficult decisions they will have to make is determining child custody. This process can be complicated, especially in Australia where the law is constantly changing. In this blog post, we will explain how child custody is determined in Australia and provide some legal advice on how to make the property settlement process smoother.
When determining child custody, the court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child. The court will take into account a number of factors, including the child’s age, relationship with each parent, any special needs they may have, and any “risk issues”. In some cases, the court may also ask for a report from a psychologist or social worker.
If you are going through a divorce and need help with the child custody process, it is almost always recommended that you speak to a lawyer. A family lawyer will be able to advise you on your specific situation and help you reach an agreement that is in the best interests of your child. If you have already reached an agreement, we can also assist with drafting a parenting plan. A Parenting Plan is a non-binding agreement which suits some circumstances, however the binding option is called Consent Orders, which is preferable in most situations.
Parenting arrangements are the practical arrangements that are put in place to allow children to spend time with each parent. These arrangements can be flexible and should be based on the needs of the child. For example, a child who is very young may need to spend more time with their mother in order to develop a strong bond. A Parenting Plan is a written agreement between the parents that sets out the parenting arrangements. It has more flexibility built in so that it can be changed over time. Consent Orders is the binding option when the parenting arrangements are more fixed and they are as binding as a judge’s order, so must be followed. You should seek legal advice as to which document suits your circumstances better.
Parental responsibility is the legal term used to describe the duties and obligations that parents have towards their children. Under Australian law, both mothers and fathers have equal parental responsibility for their children. This means that they must make joint decisions about important matters such as education, medical treatment, and religious upbringing.
Family violence (which is a “risk issue”) is a major factor that the court will consider when determining child custody. If there is a history of family violence, the court may order that the children spend time with the parent in question only if they undergo counseling and there is someone else present during their visits.
When making decisions about children after divorce, parental responsibility, parenting arrangements, and Parenting Plans and Consent Orders are important things to consider in Australia. If you are going through a separation or divorce and are having difficulty determining child custody, it is important to seek legal advice. With the help of a family lawyer, you can make sure that your children’s best interests are taken into account throughout the process. Contact us today for a consultation.