Parenting Arrangements

parenting arrangementsParenting arrangements that are in the best interests of children are critical for children’s welfare. We understand that parenting arrangements can be complicated, especially once a relationship has broken down, however our firm strives to achieve a workable outcome that families can work with and one which is in your children’s best interests.

When courts are making decisions on parenting arrangements, the main consideration and the primary focus for the court is whether or not the proposed arrangements are in the “best interests” of the children.  This is a fundamental legislative provision in family law parenting matters.

The court presumes that it is in the best interests of the children for parents to have ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ for their children, but it will look at what is best for the children in each case.  Equal shared parental responsibility doesn’t refer to custody or access arrangements or how much time the children spend with each parent.  It’s about the parents sharing decision making responsibility in relation to their kids.  Also, the presumption is rebuttable.  That is, in some circumstances you can persuade the court that an order for equal shared parental responsibility isn’t in the children’s best interests.  For example, the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility will not apply if there has been child abuse or violence by a parent or a person who lives with the parent (including abuse of any child within these families).  In those instances, the court can make an order instead for sole parental responsibility in favour of one of the parents only.

The factors that children’s “best interests”

The court’s most important considerations are:

  1. Protecting children from physical and psychological harm, including children seeing family violence, being neglected or being physically or psychologically hurt; and
  2. The benefit of children having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.

If these two considerations are in conflict with each other the priority is the protection of the children from physical and emotional harm.

What Other considerations that the court must have regard to ?

There are many other factors that the court can consider in determining where the best interests of the children lie. Some examples are as follows:-

  1. Any views of the children, balanced against their ability to express them. Children do not have to express their views if they don’t want to.
  2. The type of relationship the children have with their parents.
  3. The extent to which each parent has been involved (or not) with decisions about major long-term issues about the children.
  4. How much time each parent has spent with and communicated with the children.
  5. Whether each parent has supported the children financially or failed to do so, for example paying child support on time.
  6. The likely effect of any change to the children’s living arrangements.
  7. The practical difficulty and expense of the children seeing each parent, and whether that will affect their right to have a relationship with each parent.
  8. How much each parent and any other person can provide for the children’s physical, emotional and intellectual needs.
  9. The maturity, background (including culture and traditions), sex and lifestyle of the children and of each parent, and anything else about the children that the court thinks is important.
  10. The right of children who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to enjoy their culture (including with others of that culture).
  11. Any family violence involving the children or a member of their family.
  12. Any contested or final family violence order that includes the children or a member of the children’s family.
  13. Whether the orders that the parties have applied for will lessen the risk of further court proceedings.
  14. Any other considerations the court thinks are important.

The scope of the considerations open to the court are not limited, which makes sense when you consider that no two families are alike. However all of these considerations can make it sound complicated, and it can be.

Our Family Law Solicitors are mindful of the difficulty parents face in trying to determine parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of children. Our experience in advising clients, engaging with other practitioners and appearing in court allows us to provide accurate guidance and lots of options to clients to ensure that parenting arrangements can be resolved quickly and in a way that is in the best interests of their children.

Calling a Family Lawyer can be difficult, however we’re here to help if:

  • Your situation involves children.
  • Your situation involved property.
  • You are unsure what you are entitled to.
  • You don’t know what your next step should be.
  • Your partner is talking about moving away.

Call us on (07) 3128 0222
Or ask us a question

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