The end of a relationship or marriage is certainly a difficult time. It is a rough process for all parties involved, but in particular the children of the couple. If you are currently in the process of ending a relationship, it is imperative that you understand some of the primary legal issues regarding your children, so as to ensure the best case scenario for them.
Dispute Resolution Is Preferable
As any lawyer will tell you, the preferred course of action is always a civil resolution or settlement. The best cases are the ones that never go to court. As far as child custody goes, there is absolutely no need for official, court-ordered custody arrangements if a civil agreement can be reached between the parents, and in fact many divorced parents end up agreeing on an informal arrangement between themselves.
Even if the parents are in agreement informally about how the children will be raised, it can be helpful to file a parenting plan. A parenting plan is an official agreement between parents. It must be in writing, signed and dated, and is overseen by a lawyer. A parenting plan is the best option if dispute resolution fails, as it carries the power of an official legal document; however, it does not require a courtroom appearance.
Every effort should be made to avoid court. Appearing in court not only carries significant legal fees, it also takes up a lot of time, and can be an emotional drain.
Seek Mediation (Third Party Counselling)
If a resolution is harder to come by, dispute resolution in the form of counselling is the next step. In fact, mediation is required before any court proceedings involving children can begin (unless the case is exceptional, for example in the presence of violence or abuse).
While such negotiations often result in an agreement between the parents, sometimes mediation doesn't work. In this case, the matter will need to be resolved officially.
Appearing In Family Court
Family law matters are dealt with in family court. In family court, the circumstances of the divorce or separation will be carefully scrutinised, and a decision will be reached that holds the child's best interests at heart. The primary considerations of the court are thus: the need for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, and the protection of the child from physical or psychological harm.
While those are the primary considerations, there are secondary considerations as well. The child's own views may be taken into account (based on the maturity of the child). Additionally, the child's relationships with other family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles. etc.) might be considered. Ultimately, in this scenario, the court will decide which parent the child primarily lives with, how much time the child can spend with each parent, and how parental responsibilities will be shared.
For more information, contact a legal specialist like Marino Law.Share
27 April 2015
No one gets married planning to get divorced, but by the time I see them it's pretty obvious why they are getting divorced. When a marriage is beyond repair I'm there to fight for my clients right's under family and property law and to get them the best deal I can possibly negotiate. Even if you feel like your case is messy or complicated, I can guarantee in my time as a lawyer I have seen and heard worse things! This site has a collection of useful articles and links on developments and case law in the Family Court of Australia.