Understanding child custody

What you need to know about Child Custody in Australia

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Working out child custody arrangements is often one of the most complicated and difficult parts of a divorce or separation. While you want the best outcome for your children, working with your ex-partner to agree on custody can be tough. Let us help you with family law support when you need it the most.

We fight for your child custody rights

Divorce or separation is tough on everyone. When you are ending a relationship we are here to provide straightforward and vital legal advice.

We know that the family legal system can be complicated, especially when you are working through the emotional impacts of your separation. Child custody and parenting arrangements are among the most emotionally charged matters, but as child custody lawyers, we’re here to protect your rights and ensure your children achieve an outcome that is in their best interests.

It is important to note that while child custody is a common term, this term is not specifically used in Family Law in Australia. Instead, ongoing care of children is discussed in terms of the child’s needs and parenting agreements.

How to get started with formalising parenting and child care arrangements

  1. When going through a separation, it is helpful to have a family lawyer on your side from the start. A family lawyer will assist you in identifying your rights and responsibilities in seeking custody, and can advocate for you throughout your separation. Contact AFL and let us help you get through this.

  2. Each party to a separation must participate in activities prior to seeking the input of the court, including attending a family dispute resolution conference. We can represent you at a family dispute conference to ensure your rights are protected.

  3. If you reach a decision on how to care for your child/ren at your conference, you can formalise this agreement through an informal parenting plan, or alternatively you can seek a formal court-ordered consent order.

  4. If you cannot agree on arrangements about your child/ren you can apply for a parenting order. This is a court-ordered direction for how children must be cared for after a separation. Once a court has made a parenting order, each person affected by the order must adhere to it.

  5. A parenting plan is not a court order, and while it outlines obligations there are no legal consequences for breaking it. Consent orders and a parenting orders are both court orders, which means that if one party breaks the outlined obligations the other party may take them to court. 

It is vital to seek legal advice when figuring out arrangements for care of child/ren in a separation. A lawyer will support and represent you so that you do not feel unsure about any of the steps you need to take.

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Commonly asked questions about child custody

The court will always make decisions about parenting arrangements based on what is best for the child/ren. Many separated parents can successfully decide how to parent their children based on discussions and compromise. But if the court does make a decision, it will consider what is in the best interests of the child in accordance with the Family Law Act. This decision may not be what you or your ex-partner might prefer, but it will consider the child’s needs above all else.

When parents separate, each parent continues to have equal shared parental responsibility. This means that each parent is responsible for decisions about long term issues such as education, healthcare, religion, lifestyle, and support. A court may decide that it is in the best interests of a child to remove parental responsibility from one or both parents. However, equal shared parental responsibility does not equate to equal time with your child, as it may be in the best interests of the child to spend most of their time with one parent and see the other parent on weekends or at another arranged time. Again, child parenting comes down to what is in the child’s best interests. 

You can commence the process of applying for custody of your child/children as soon as you have separated from your partner. It is important to obtain legal advice when applying for custody, because a lawyer provides support and understanding during what can be a emotionally difficult time.

About Australian Family Lawyers

We are a team of dedicated family lawyers with experience negotiating on behalf of our clients in a range of divorce, separation, parenting, property, and child support matters. You can rely on our support and representation as you go through you separation and trust that we will achieve the best possible outcome in your matter.

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