When a relationship breaks down, amicable steps should be taken to reduce the impact on the children. It greatly reduces stress and uncertainty for kids if parents are able to cooperate and make arrangements, whether regarding child custody or support payments, that preserve the relationships between the kids and each parent.
Unless there is an agreement or order to the contrary, following separation it follows that both parents retain equal shared parental responsibility and have an obligation to consult with each other in relation to those decisions with long-term ramifications on the child or children, like education, health or religion.
In cases where an agreement can be made between the parents, it follows that a Parenting Plan or Consent Order should be constructed that sets out the terms and conditions of the agreement.
In considering parenting arrangements, the predominant focus is what will be in “the best interests of the child” as opposed to the parents, including custody and all other matters.
Generally speaking, the Court will consider the following objectives in determining the most suitable orders:
- The need to protect a child/children from violence
- The right of a child/children to know and be cared for by both parents
- The right of a child/children to spend time and communicate with both parents..
It is often of assistance to attend mediation with the other parent to negotiate parenting arrangements for your children. There is usually a requirement in any event that you are to attempt mediation before you can make an application to the court for Parenting Orders.
Considerations concerning child custody and other arrangements
When agreements cannot be made with respect to the parenting arrangements between you and your ex-partner, the court can make orders regarding the following matters: