Parenting Matters - Separation & Family law
Divorce or separation can be a stressful process that is filled with complexities. This is often further complicated by disputes over child custody.
Our experienced family lawyers in Wollongong can help to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and that your rights are protected.
Important Considerations for Children
Parents who are separating have an obligation to do everything possible to minimise any negative impact on children. There are many factors to consider such as who the children will live with, what time the children will spend with the parent they do not live with primarily, how parenting decisions will be made, and how financial arrangements will work.
It is important to focus on arrangements that will be in the best interests of the children. Separated parents have two options to formalise parenting arrangements:
1. An informal parenting plan – a written agreement that is signed and dated by both parties. It acts as a reference for both parties and can be as simple or as detailed as you like. These are effective when parents can agree on parenting matters.
A parenting plan is not a court order, meaning a breach of its terms is not breaking the law. However, the other party may take you to court if you breach a parenting plan you have signed. The court will ask why you breached the parenting plan and may make parenting orders overriding its terms.
2. A parenting order – a written agreement about parenting arrangements that is approved by a Court having jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975. Parenting Orders can be made by agreement when an Application for Consent Orders is filed with the Family Court or during contested proceedings before a Court, either by agreement or by the Court making a decision after an interim hearing or a final hearing.
The details included in parenting Orders can be very similar to a parenting plan, however, if you breach a parenting Order, you may be breaking the law and as a result, face penalties. Parenting Orders are normally required when separated parents cannot agree on parenting matters.
Do You Need Help With Your Parenting Arrangements?
It's a very good idea for separated parents to seek independent legal advice as early as possible, even before separation. This will ensure that your parenting plan or parenting Orders are appropriate for you and your children and includes all necessary details.