Child Custody Law.
Although the terms ‘custody’, ‘residence’, ‘contact’ and ‘access’ are no longer used by Lawyers today, the issues behind the jargon are still on the top of the list of concerns for separating couples, namely: Who will the child or children live with? How will they spend time with the other parent? How will both parents be kept appraised regarding the many important decisions that need to be made such as for children’s education, maintenance and health? These are issues that our Family law Lawyers are here to help you with.
Joint Custody and Shared Responsibility
Joint custody or shared responsibility means that both parents have legal rights and responsibilities towards the child/children. It doesn’t mean that the child/children will spend half of their time with one parent and half with the other, but that each parent has an equal say in decisions relating to the child in areas such as health and education. Even if the child lives with the other parent you may still have joint custody.
But doesn’t the law now say that children have to spend equal time with each parent? No, it doesn’t. The law ensures that the best interests of the children are served first.
When considering what is in the children’s best interests, the Court has to consider facilitating a meaningful relationship between the children and both of their parents and also to protect the child from harm. If the Court is to provide equal shared responsibility then it will also consider whether equal time is in the best interests of the children and whether it is practical. Rather than equal time, for example, the Court may order substantial and significant time be spent with the other parent, which might, for example, translate to be 4 nights per fortnight rather than 7.
Where do I start?
Firstly, it is of vital importance that you receive sound legal advice. A Lawyer of Curtis Gant Betts will take you through all of the relevant areas which need to be considered and document what you think is a fair approach to arrangements for your children. If your partner is agreeable, your Lawyer can help you formalise the document without proceeding to expensive and time consuming court action. If your differences are unable to be settled, then you will need to commence on the path to having parenting orders issued by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court. Recent changes to the Family Law Act 1975 mean that you will need to attend family dispute resolution before applying for parenting orders. The accredited family dispute resolution practitioner will issue a certificate which must be filed with the court application and simply states that your differences were unable to be resolved. If your case does end up in court, a legally binding decision will be made through a Hearing, if not resolved prior, where the Judge will decide what is in the child’s best interests.
Why use a lawyer?
As Lawyers experienced in this process we can advise you in regard to the complexities of your specific situation as well as guide you through what can be a stressful and confusing process. We can help take the heat out of a difficult emotional situation and negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best possible result for your children. And if it comes to court, we are deeply familiar with the court system and can use our experience to your advantage.