Parenting matters

I know from experience that children from separated families can flourish with strong relationships and an abundance of love. Separation is a stressful and difficult time, and this can impact children. It’s part of my job to help you limit the negative impact of separation and help you work out parenting arrangements that work well for everyone.

What’s involved?

You and your former partner are the most important people to your children – regardless of whether you’re happily married, living apart or divorced.

The fundamental principles relating to parenting matters are:

  • ensuring children benefit from both their parents having meaningful involvement in their lives
  • ensuring children are protected from harm
  • ensuring children receive proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential
  • ensuring parents fulfil their duties and meet their responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of children
  • children having a right to know and be cared for by both of their parents
  • children having a right to spend regular time, and communicate, with their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development, including grandparents and other relatives
  • children having a right to enjoy their culture.

Parents should share in the duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children, and should agree about the future parenting of their children. The Family Law Courts will only make orders that are considered to be in the “best interest” of children.

Reaching agreement

If you can agree on arrangements for your children, you don’t have to go to court, but you can make a parenting plan or obtain consent orders approved by a court.

Applying to the court

Unless there is a history of family violence or child abuse or circumstances of urgency, you’ll generally need to participate in pre-action procedures, including attending a Family Dispute Resolution Conference, before you can apply to the court for parenting orders.

These pre-action procedures can often help resolve issues in a less costly and less formal way than going to court. Since you help shape the agreement, these outcomes are often more effective, too.

If you’re unable to reach agreement, the court can make parenting orders covering:

  • who the children will live with
  • how much time the children will spend with each parent and with grandparents and other people
  • the allocation of parental responsibility
  • how the children will communicate with a parent they do not live with, or other people,
  • any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the children.

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