Parenting and Child Support
Your children are your primary concern so it is important to speak to a family lawyer that shares this view.
The experience of the break down of a relationship can be made all the more stressful when children are involved. We understand that your children are your primary focus and that issues relating to them are a high priority. Mornington Family Lawyers can provide advice regarding all parenting issues as well as child support matters, including drafting child support agreements. These issues can be complex, but we pride ourselves on making sure our clients are well informed.
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FAQ's About Parenting and Child Support
Our lawyers at Mornington Family Lawyers can assist you to come up with an agreement as to which parent the children will live with after separation and how much time they will spend with the other parent.
When making these decisions, parents are always encouraged to regard the children’s best interests as the paramount consideration. It is generally considered that a relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the children.
If you and your former partner agree on who the children will live with and how much time they will spend with the other parent post-separation, you can enter a Parenting Plan and avoid the need to go to court. A Parenting Plan is not legally enforceable but can be finalised by way of Consent Orders filed with the Court.
If you and your former partner cannot reach an agreement over parenting arrangements for your children, you may need to commence proceedings in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court. This can only be done after you and your former partner have made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute through Family Dispute Resolution, if appropriate to do so.
Mornington Family Lawyers can assist you to resolve your parenting matter outside of Court or through Court if necessary.
If you and your former partner can come to a parenting agreement between yourselves, you will have the flexibility to tailor the arrangement to best suit your needs and those of your children.
If the Court is required to intervene and determine parenting disputes, it will start by considering whether children ought to spend equal time with both parents. Where this is not practicable, the Court then considers whether the children ought to spend ‘substantial and significant’ time with each parent. ‘Substantial and significant’ time with each parent must include weekdays, weekend days, holiday time and special occasions.
When determining whether equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent is practicable, the Court will consider factors such as how far apart the parents live from each other, each parent’s capacity to implement an equal or substantial and significant time arrangement and the impact of any such arrangement on the children.
At Mornington Family Lawyers, we can assist you to resolve parenting arrangements without the need to go to Court and also where it does become necessary to go to Court.
It is important to remember that parental responsibility is not impacted by the breakdown of the relationship between two parents. Both parents will continue to have what is known as ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ for their children under 18 years of age unless the Court says otherwise.
At law, ‘parental responsibility’ refers to the legal obligations and duties which parents have for the care, welfare and development of their children. This includes but is not limited to their education, health, religion and living arrangements. This does not mean that both parents will have equal time with the children, but that they are required to consult each other and make joint decisions about major long-term issues regarding the child.
It is not always easy for parents to share parental responsibility and to co-parent effectively in the wake of separation. There are circumstances where it may become necessary for one parent to make an application for sole parental responsibility, such as where there is family violence, abuse or high-level conflict between parents. Our lawyers at Mornington Family Lawyers understand this and can assist you to navigate shared parental responsibility post-separation or advise you on sole parental responsibility in certain circumstances.
Wherever the Court is required to intervene in parenting disputes, its primary focus is the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents, subject to the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm.
It is generally in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with and spend time with both parents, save for extreme circumstances of physical, sexual or psychological harm or abuse.
Other factors taken into account when determining the best interests of the child include the child’s relationship with each parent and any extended family members, the willingness of each parent to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent, the likely effect that a change of circumstances will have on a child and in certain cases, the child’s own personal views.
Our lawyers at Mornington Family Lawyers will assist you through any parenting dispute in a manner which ensures that the best interests of your child are always the primary consideration.
Where one parent wishes to relocate either with the children or away from the children, this can make it difficult to maintain the children’s time with each parent. If parents have equal and shared parental responsibility, they should try to make a genuine effort to resolve the issue amicably between themselves. Otherwise, a parent may need to make an application to the Court to either get permission to relocate with the children or to prevent the other parent from relocating with the children.
The most effective way to ensure that the other parent of your children does not attempt to relocate with your children is to make sure there are parenting orders in place which address the issue. If you wish to relocate with your children and cannot agree about relocating, you can apply to the Court for Orders to allow you to move. The Court will consider the best interests and welfare of the children before granting permission. Mornington Family Lawyers can assist you with finalising parenting orders. Otherwise, we can advise on the issue of relocation where there are no parenting orders or where you wish to relocate with your children in spite of orders.