The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia are dedicated to resolving disputes regarding the parenting arrangements for children of separated couples. The Family Law Act 1975 sets out a number of matters that need to be considered in determining what are the most appropriate parenting arrangements for a child. The Act is clear that the best interest of the child is the Court’s paramount consideration. In determining the best interest there are a number of factors as set out in Section 60CC(2) and (3) of the Act that need to be considered against a backdrop of the objects and principles of the legislation as set out in Section 60B.
The objects are to;
- ensure that the best interests of children are met by ensuring they have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives, to the maximum extent consistent with the best interest of the child;
- to protect the children from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence;
- ensuring that children receive adequate and proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential; and
- to ensure the parents fulfil their duties and meet their responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children.
The Court not only has the power to make orders as to where a child is to live and how much time the child is to spend with each parent, but also orders for the protection of the children or a parent, and specific orders around how decisions are to be made for the children, travel arrangements and numerous other matters that face separated parents.
Separation is a tumultuous time for parents and children. It is important that parents receive prompt advice following separation so that they understand what the Court’s expectations would be with respect to the best interests of their children. Too often, parents will feel forced into parenting arrangements that are often not in the best interests of the children. If these arrangements continue it may be very difficult to convince the Court that those arrangements need to change.
At PWB we encourage clients to seek early advice so they can either negotiate direct with their ex-partner, take that advice to community based mediation, or instruct us to assist them with negotiations. Being fully informed in regard to your children’s rights will maximise the chance of your children experiencing a post-separation parenting arrangement that is in their best interests. The focus is always in avoiding Court wherever possible, however there are many circumstances, including circumstances of family violence where this is not possible. If this is the case, we will assist you in having your matter promptly filed in Court.