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The Post Separation Parenting Journey

When it comes to time with your children – focus on their needs and what works practically

Following separation an issue that is important and sometimes confronting is trying to work out who the children will live with and what time they will spend with the other parent. Sometimes equal time in both of the parents’ homes might be suitable but is not always the case. Striking the right parenting balance is important for both parents and children.

Arrangements need to be practical and workable and above all should be focused on the right outcome for the children. Parents have to do their very best to put aside their personal differences so that the best interests of the children come first.

Practical dispute resolution without going to court

If you are in a dispute with your ex-partner over arrangements for your child please contact us for practical guidance. We will help you reaching a legal outcome that is child focused that will provide you with certainty and a solution to your dispute.

We at Bell Legal Group believe that the best outcomes are usually those that the parents have decided for themselves. This may be agreed privately when things remain amicable but sometimes a third party process such as mediation may be needed. We are very experienced in this area and can help you get a legal resolution to your parenting matter.

But what about when you can’t agree about parenting arrangements?

Of course there are still cases where agreement simply cannot be reached. In those cases then you can be assured that we have the knowledge and experience to put your case before the court so as to give you the best opportunity to achieve the right result for your children.

Family Dispute Resolution

Except in a few urgent cases, or where there is family violence, parents must at least try to reach agreement about parenting arrangements before they can apply to court. This is done by a process called Family Dispute Resolution which may be accessed through the government funded Family Relationship Centres or through organisations such as Relationships Australia.

As an alternative, there are a number of private Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners who may be able to assist. Only when the Family Dispute Resolution fails to resolve matters will a certificate be issued enabling court proceedings to be started.

How does a Court decide parenting arrangements?

If you have to go to court to resolve arrangements for the children you will be asking for parenting orders pursuant to Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (‘the Act’). That is the Part of the Act that deals with children. The Act is very clear that when a court has to decide parenting orders the paramount consideration must be the best interests of the child (or children).

What the ‘best interests’ are depends on a number of factors which will be different in every case. However section 60CC of the Act sets out a list of considerations that must be considered. They may be summarised as follows:

Best interests of the child – Primary considerations:

  1. The benefit to a child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
  2. The need to protect the child (the more important primary consideration).

Best interests of the child – Secondary considerations:

  1. The views of the child – subject to the child’s maturity and understanding
  2. The child’s relationships with parents and other persons
  3. The extent to which parents have taken the opportunity to be involved in the child’s life
  4. The maintenance of the child by the parents
  5. The likely effect upon the child of any changes in circumstances – including any separation from a parent
  6. The practical difficulties and expenses of the case
  7. The capacity of parents and others to meet the child’s needs
  8. The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of the child and the parents so far as relevant
  9. The right to enjoy Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island culture where relevant
  10. The attitude to parenthood demonstrated by the parents
  11. Any family violence – whether orders made or not
  12. The benefit of ending court proceedings
  13. Anything else the court thinks relevant.

As you can see, that is a very long list of considerations that a court must consider.

Every child is unique and the most relevant points of consideration differ from case to case. For that reason it is important to get professional legal advice tailored to your situation.

Professional help when you need it

At Bell Legal Group our team of family lawyers have extensive experience in advising our clients about seeking the right outcomes for children including obtaining court orders where court is necessary.