The starting point with kids will always be to ask what is in their best interests.
From there, the courts will consider a number of factors to determine how best to meet the needs of each child. Within this, both parents have:
- equal shared responsibility for their children’s care, welfare and development;
- rights to make decisions about their children, regardless of where they live;
- and an obligation to consult each other about religion, education, health, and other similarly important areas.
Equal shared responsibility does not mean that there is a requirement for children to live in an equal time arrangement with each parent. The children might live primarily with one parent and see the other parent on weekends, holidays, special occasions, or under some other arrangement.
This can be a complex and highly emotive area of the law, and can have a huge impact on your life and the lives of everyone in your family. It’s important you get the right advice so the right decisions are made for both your children and you. Hall Payne’s experts have decades of experience in family law and can help you, and your family, reach the best outcome for everyone.
If you can’t agree on a parenting arrangement, you will need to attend family dispute resolution (FDR). A genuine attempt at FDR is a compulsory step before your matter can go to court. Situations involving family violence, child abuse or extreme urgency are exempt from the requirement to attend FDR.
FDR involves qualified expert mediators helping you determine what’s best for the children. It’s a good way to reach agreement in a calm and stress-free environment.
If FDR is unsuccessful, you will be advised on how to progress the matter to court.
If you do reach an agreement at FDR a parenting plan will document that agreement. While it is a useful document, a parenting plan is not legally binding. Hall Payne can help you to formalise a parenting plan after FDR into a binding Consent Order.