What about the children?

The most important decisions going forward are related to your children.

Sydney and Melbourne’s Leading Child Support & Custody Lawyers

MAKING SURE THAT THE BEST DECISIONS ARE MADE FOR YOUR CHILDREN

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:

Directly related to the custody of your child

With whom the child should live

The court will consider the logistics of how all this will work.

The time a child or children is to spend with each parent

The court will consider the logistics of how all this will work.

Making the important decisions

The court will consider whether one or both parents are to be responsible for decisions regarding the long-term issues concerning a child or children known as the “parental responsibility”.

Which School?

The court may consider which school is most appropriate if there is no agreement.

The logistics of dealing with each other in relation to medical issues

The court may look at the processes that instruct how the parents will consult with each other before taking a child to a doctor or undergoing medical procedures, excluding emergencies.

Travel Arrangements

Making decisions with respect to whether a child or children can travel overseas or interstate.

Relocation

The court will make decisions with respect to the relocation of the child or children to other geographical locations, whether that be to another town, city or suburb, interstate or even overseas.

The navigation of these issues are sometimes best considered with legal help.

Child Support

It is expected that both parents have an obligation to financially support children, even after separation. This is what is referred to as “child support”.

In Melbourne and throughout Australia, this is administered by what is commonly referred to as the Child Support Agency (“CSA”). Parents and carers of children can apply to the CSA for an administrative assessment of child support from the other parent if they are not living with the other parent on a genuine domestic basis – i.e. they have separated.

The amount that is payable is based on a complex formula, that takes into account each parent’s incomes, the ages of the children, and the number of nights that the children spend with each parent. Each case is different, so just because your friend may have to pay a certain amount for their children does not mean that you will have to pay the same amount for yours.

It is possible to apply to vary the assessment in certain circumstances, such as where the assessment does not accurately reflect a parent’s real income, there are additional costs to educate the children, such as private school fees, or you are paying for other benefits for the support of the children, such as the mortgage for the home where the children are living.

It is also possible to enter into a Child Support Agreement with the other parent directly, without the intervention of the CSA, and many parents favour this agreement as it provides long-term certainty, without the hassle of the continual involvement of the CSA.

Whilst support is very important to ensure that children are properly maintained, it is also a very complex and confusing area. It can be difficult to get information in relation to your particular situation and often even staff from the CSA cannot assist, as they are unable to give you legal advice.

Experienced lawyers in Melbourne & Sydney here to provide help

Australian Family Lawyers have offices in both Sydney and Melbourne, and we are highly experienced in navigating this complex area of law. We can give you legal advice about how much you should be paying or receiving, as well as how to apply for a variation to the assessment, if necessary. Our specialist family lawyers can also give you advice as to whether a Child Support Agreement would be in your best interests and in drafting such an agreement.

Download our Free Family Law Guide

Family law is both complex and emotionally challenging. In our experience, having some useful information initially can help you understand the road ahead.

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