After separating from your spouse, you may encounter disagreements in regards to the parenting arrangements for your children.
This guide will describe the ins and outs of Family Law in Australia, helping you to understand the various routes to take in order to dissolve your relationship and resolve child custody issues amicably.
- Attempt to resolve the disagreement before starting court proceedings
This can be done by undergoing counselling and making a genuine effort to contact the other party.
Note that mediation (also known as Family Dispute Resolution), is compulsory before undergoing court action. Exceptions to this include factors such as domestic and family violence which render the case urgent. In most cases, the court will need a Certificate from a Family Dispute Practitioner to allow the case to continue in court.
- Taking the matter to court
There are two ways you and your spouse can determine the terms of custody: a Consent Order and a Court Order.
A Consent Order is when both parties agree to a set of terms and submit the agreement to court.
A Court Order is used when the two parties can not come to an agreement, and a judge is required to decide the outcome.
It is important to note that both Orders are legally binding and enforceable by the Court.
- Decision Process
Child custody disputes in Australia are governed by the Family Law Act 1975.
The primary consideration of the court in deciding custody is the child’s wellbeing and best interests.
The number one factor dictating the outcome is the safety of the child, both physical and psychological. Issues such as neglect, abuse, and domestic violence fall under this bracket.
Other factors taken into consideration when deciding custody include:
- the wishes of the child themselves (although the maturity of the child will influence the court’s decision)
- the relationship between the child and each of the parents
- whether the parents can fulfil their parental duties (including financial factors)
If you and your ex-partner have not yet agreed or are unable to agree on arrangements with your child, then please contact our experienced solicitors at 02 8999 9809 for assistance.