Can’t reach an agreement in relation to the children following separation? At TwoHill Lawyers we can help!
Children are the most important party in family law matters. Whatever your circumstances, we can provide advice on how to move forward with your life while keeping the best interests of your children paramount.
When parents of a child (or adopted child) or children under 18 separate, they will generally both have an equal parental responsibility for the child unless a Court Order states otherwise.
It is important to distinguish however, between:
- Equal shared parental responsibility
- Equal time with the child
Best interests of the child
Whatever your situation, the law aims to protect children in two ways:
- ensure that children enjoy a meaningful relationship with both of their parents; and
- ensure that children are protected from harm.
Equal shared parental responsibility
Equal shared parental responsibility is the presumption that both parents will have a role in making decisions about major long-term issues, for example:
- where a child goes to school;
- treatment for major health issues.
This presumption may be quickly rebutted in instances where a parent has been violent or abusive. The key here is to understand the impact of the situation on the child and whether a parent is at risk of harming the child, either physically or emotionally.
Equal shared time
Equal shared time is available to parents when:
- they can agree to this arrangement; or
- a court finds that equal time is in the best interests of the child and is the most suitable arrangement.
Equal shared time is usually on a week about or fortnightly schedule where parents can pick up/drop off children at school, day care, sport, public place etc.
Family Dispute Resolution
Unless there is an urgent risk of harm to the children, such as abuse or abduction, each party must make a genuine effort to resolve disputes before filing Court Proceedings.
The parties will need to book a FDR conciliation conference and make a ‘genuine effort’ with the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to resolve the children’s issues. The effort should be one that is realistically directed at resolving the issues that are the subject of the application to a court.
After the conference, a Section 60I certificates will be issued to each of the parties indicating one of the following:
- one party refused to attend;
- one party did not attend because the practitioner did not consider it would be appropriate;
- the parties attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the issue;
- the parties attended but one or more of them did not make a genuine effort to resolve the issues in dispute; or
- the parties started the conference, but part way through the practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue.
The Court in some instances may award costs against a party based on their failure to attend or make a genuine effort.
Once a section 60I certificate has been issued, the parties may file proceedings in Court to have matters finalised.
For over 30 years, Twohill Lawyers have been providing comprehensive legal help to the people of the Gold Coast community. If you require further information or legal assistance in relation to your children, please contact Twohill Lawyers on 07 5571 1450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.