One of the most pressing matters faced by separating parties relates to the ongoing care of the children of a relationship.
If you are not able to resolve parenting arrangements directly with your partner, or through dispute resolution, you are able to apply to the court to seek assistance in determining the appropriate arrangements to put in place both on an interim, and final basis for your family.
If the court is required to assist you in determining the time that your children should spend with you and your ex-partner, it is necessary for you to have attempted dispute resolution (through mediation or counselling) to resolve your dispute, and to lodge a certificate to this effect with the court as part of any Court application, unless there are urgent circumstances which exclude this process.
Once your matter is before the court, the focus of the Trial Judge will be on determining the arrangements that are in your child’s best interests. In doing so, the court must consider the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents and the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.
The court will also consider various other factors, including the physical environment you can provide for the child, the relationship between the parents and any other significant person, your respective parenting skills, the current arrangements in place for the children and the wishes of the children (bearing in mind their age and level of maturity).
As part of the court process, a psychologist will usually be appointed to prepare a family welfare report and provide recommendations for the most appropriate arrangement for your family moving forward.
The court may also appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer to act on behalf of the children in circumstances where there is continued disagreement or high conflict between parents to a dispute and where there are significant issues concerning the children generally. Our Family Law team has two recognised and experienced Independent Children’s Lawyers which are able to provide advice to clients about the perspectives of the ICL.
Our team can advise you as to the best approach to take in dealing with children’s issues, and in negotiating arrangements for your time with the children moving forward. We will also provide detailed advice as to the types of arrangements that are appropriate in your particular circumstances, and for your family. We can recommend a range of professionals (such as counsellors, psychologists and/or mediators) should you wish to seek additional assistance to resolve your matter without recourse to litigation.
We are otherwise experienced in complex litigation regarding children, and can guide you through this process to achieve a best outcome for you and for your family.
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