In most cases, parents and other family members understand the need to put a child’s safety and emotional well-being first. Parenting arrangements after separation or divorce (formerly referred to as “child custody”, “residence” , “contact” or even “access”) need to be considered and decided upon following a relationship breakdown. By law the best interests of the child are always the most important consideration. When considering parenting arrangements after spouse relationship breaks down, the Court must also consider the child’s wellbeing and weigh up the value of living with the parent with aspects such as quality of life, access to education etc. living with other relatives or designated carers.
Where a child will live, how often they spend time with each of their parents, the sharing of special event days such as birthdays, Christmas, and school holidays, and how parents make decisions about the care of their children once separated, are all issues of great importance which should be included in any agreement about children. The role that grandparents, step parents, and other important people in the lives of children must also be considered, and appropriately addressed according to the law.
It may sound complicated, and at times it can be. However, all of our child custody lawyers are extremely mindful of the delicate nature of parenting issues and decisions which need to be made upon separation for children. Our high degree of expertise in children’s matters, and our familiarity with the requirements of the Court, allows us to act swiftly and effectively to ensure parenting issues can be resolved in a timely fashion consistent with the best interests of your child or children.
Watts McCray’s child support lawyers are also regularly involved in acting independently for children when the Court deems it appropriate.
Under current parenting law, it’s presumed that both parents will have equal shared parental responsibility for their child or children. That means they are required to consult each other and make joint decisions about major issues affecting the child such as education, health, housing, and religion. In some situations equal shared parental responsibility may not be in the child’s best interests, and you will need to discuss other aspects of parental responsibility with one of our solicitors.
Our solicitors can also advise you on what parenting arrangement might also be best for your child or children upon separation, including where they are to live, with whom they are to live, and how often they see the other parent.
There is no current law which requires children to spend equal time with both parents in all cases. Living arrangements, and the allocation of time between parents and significant others, is subject to the child’s best interests in all cases.
The Family Law Act allows for any person who has an interest in the care, welfare and development of a child to make an application about that child. This means that persons who are not the parents may apply to the Court for Orders, including grandparents.
The Court can make Orders which it considers to be in the best interests of the children, despite the apparent conflict with the wishes or the interests of either of the parents or children. Such an order literally deals only with when a child lives with a parent, or spends time with a parent. It does not affect other responsibilities that parents have in making decisions about children including medical, dental and educational matters.
Parenting laws state that the welfare of the child is of paramount importance. If both parties cannot agree, a Judge will make a decision after considering all the relevant factors. In some cases the Court can require that the children be separately represented by their own lawyer.
The Lawyers at Watts McCray have a high degree of expertise in relation to children’s matters and are regularly involved in acting for children.
If there is a fear that one party may remove the child from the other, or if the child has actually been removed, an urgent Order can be obtained from the Court to prevent the child from being taken away, to have the child returned or to locate the child. This is important if there is a possibility that the child may be taken overseas. The Lawyers at Watts McCray are highly skilled in these situations, due to their familiarity with the requirements of the Court.