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Children & Parenting Orders

Two children walking on their own to signify parenting orders where they are going to the other parent.

The Act sets out both primary and additional considerations that allow us to uncover what is best for the child when we consider Parenting Orders. 

We cover the main aspects to consider when creating a Parenting Plan as well as the need for an independent children’s lawyer in certain cases.

The Law that applies in these matters is set out under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and sets out factors to be taken into consideration when creating parenting arrangements. 

Although we understand how difficult these proceedings can be, the most important focus is on the ‘best interests of the child’, as this is the Courts primary consideration.

Parents are encouraged to use this principle when making parenting plans outside of Court.

BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD

The above Act sets out both primary and additional considerations that allow us to uncover what is best for the child. 

Primary Considerations: 
These considerations are given the most weight in proceedings. 

  • The benefit to the child if they were to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents; and
  • The need to protect the child from any harm, whether physical or psychological. 

Additional Considerations: 

  • Each parent’s ability to look after the child;
  • The child’s views;
  • Whether the parents are able to encourage & facilitate a proper relationship between the child and other parent;
  • Circumstances since separation;
  • Parental attitude & responsibilities;
  • Domestic violence within the family or involving the child. 

PARENTING RESPONSIBILITY / PARENTING TIME / PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

When creating a Parenting Plan, it is important to consider the following three aspects as set out in the above Act:

  • Equal shared parenting responsibility, meaning; both parents share major long-term decisions about the child’s medical matters, educations, living arrangements and religious matters. 
  • Parenting time that the child will spend with each parent. This can be equal time or ‘substantial and significant time’. Substantial and significant time includes the child spending weekdays, weekends and holidays with each parent and having meaningful involvement with the child’s daily routine.
  • Practical considerations such as how far apart the parties live, each parent’s ability to communicate and resolve disputes and how equal or substantial and significant time will affect the child.

 The Court will presume that equal shared parental responsibility is in the best interests of the child, however this is not the case if there has been child abuse or violence by a person or person living with the parent.

If the Court believes that the child may be at risk in the care of a parent, they can order that they spend time or communicate with the parent under supervision. Often a meeting place is agreed upon where the child can be picked up, dropped off or spend supervised time at.
 
Children do not usually attend court however it is not uncommon for the Court to hear the child’s attitudes and views through an independent children’s lawyer or family report. ​


Children do not usually attend court however it is not uncommon for the Court to hear the child’s attitudes and views through an independent children’s lawyer or family report. 

An Independent Children’s Lawyer (‘ICL’) is primarily appointed where there is a dispute involving children, most commonly in matters involving violence, mental illness or drug abuse. 

The role of the ICL is not to take sides and take the child’s instructions, but rather to meet with the child to gain some insight into their understanding of the matter, their thoughts and how they are progressing

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