When a relationship breaks down, amicable steps should be taken to reduce the impact on the children. It greatly reduces stress and uncertainty for kids if parents are able to cooperate and make arrangements, whether regarding child care or support payments, that preserve the relationships between the kids and each parent.
Unless there is an agreement or order to the contrary, following separation it follows that both parents retain equal shared parental responsibility and have an obligation to consult with each other in relation to those decisions with long-term ramifications on the child or children, like education, health or religion.
In cases where an agreement can be made between the parents, it may be advisable to enter into a Parenting Plan or Consent Order that sets out the terms and conditions of the agreement.
In considering parenting arrangements, the predominant focus is what will be in “the best interests of the child” as opposed to the parents, including who will take care of the children and all other matters.
Generally speaking, if your matter went to Court, the Court will consider the following objectives in determining the most suitable orders:
- The need to protect a child/children from violence
- The right of a child/children to know and be cared for by both parents
- The right of a child/children to spend time and communicate with both parents.
- It is often of assistance to attend mediation with the other parent to negotiate parenting arrangements for your children. There is usually a requirement in any event that you are to attempt mediation before you can make an application to the court for Parenting Orders.
Considerations concerning children
When agreements cannot be made with respect to the parenting arrangements between you and your ex-partner, the court can make orders regarding the following matters:
- With whom the child should live
- The time a child or children is to spend with each parent or other persons
- The allocation of parental responsibility
- Communication between the child and other persons
- The court will consider the logistics of how all this will work.
Making the important decisions
The court will consider whether one or both parents are to be responsible for decisions regarding the long-term issues concerning a child or children known as the “parental responsibility”.
The court may consider which school is most appropriate if there is no agreement.
The court may look at the processes that instruct how the parents will consult with each other before taking a child to a doctor or undergoing medical procedures, excluding emergencies.
Where there is no agreement, the Court can making decisions with respect to whether a child or children can travel overseas or interstate.
The court will make decisions with respect to the relocation of the child or children to other geographical locations, whether that be to another town, city or suburb, interstate or even overseas.
The navigation of these issues are often best considered with legal help.
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