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With more than thirty years of expertise behind us, Carew Counsel is a highly experienced family law firm dedicated to assisting our clients in all areas of family law, including children’s issues such as child custody.
We hold the view that it is the child’s right to have quality time with both parents unless there’s a very good reason not to.
Custody Laws in Australia
Terms like ‘guardianship’, ‘access’, ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ are now largely obsolete and replaced with concepts like:
- ‘Lives With’ Orders
Where and with whom the child resides
- ‘Spends Time With’ and ‘Communicates With’ Orders
Arrangements between the child and separated parents involving the parent whom the child does not normally live with, spend time and communicate with.
- ‘Special Issues’
Relating to issues of education, medical treatment and anything else to do with a child’s upbringing and welfare.
In the absence of a Court Order, each party holds shared parental responsibility for the child, meaning that long term decisions relating to education, religious and cultural upbringing, health and even choice of name should not be made without consulting the other parent first.
Child Custody Arrangements
The Family Law Act encourages parents to resolve their child custody arrangements without Court proceedings and many parties opt to do this by entering into a parenting plan.
If the matter goes to Court, then the Court will make decisions based on what’s best for the child, favouring both parents to be involved unless there is evidence to the contrary.
A parenting plan is a written agreement that sets out the parenting arrangements for children. This only needs to be written and signed freely (without threat, duress or coercion) between the parties to come into effect.
There is also the option for the parties to formalise their agreement by making an Application for Consent Orders. Subject to approval by the Court, the agreement made between the parties will then be made an Order, with either party able to utilise the Court for enforcement if needed.
Consent Orders are legally enforceable Court Orders that are made with the best interests of the child in mind.
As they can get in the way of common sense discussions and variations to the normal living arrangements of children, our view is that Consent Orders should only be implemented as a necessity.
Ideally, parents – the ones who have to live with these arrangements – should be making these decisions, not the Court.
This area of family law can be a complex matter, and the Court also considers the rights of others (apart from parents) to be involved in the child’s life, which includes grandparents, other relatives and foster parents.
If parents cannot resolve their child custody issues then the next step would be Family Counselling and Disputes.
From issues relating to the custody of children to parenting plans, our highly experienced legal team is here to help you work through any children’s issues with a sensitive and pragmatic approach.
Contact us today to find out how we can help.