Is there a basic approach by the Family Court to children’s living arrangements after separation?
Yes, Family Law sets out that accept in exceptional circumstances, it is in the interest of the child to regularly spend time with both parents. The issue between parents is often about how to sort out which parent the child lives with and how and when the child will spend time with the other parent.
How do you resolve issues about children?
The best way to resolve these issues is to talk to your ex-spouse/ex-partner and reach agreement. It is wise though to obtain independent legal advice before you do that so you know exactly where you stand.
Take advantage of our advice session to obtain legal advice at this stage.
What information will we want to know at a first interview to be able to advise on issues relating to your children’s living arrangements?
We will want to know:
- The full names and dates of birth of your children.
- What the care arrangements have been for your children after they were born and as they grew up.
- What have been the care arrangements for your child/children in the immediate past.
- Whether they are school age, if so, are there any particular arrangements for the care for before and after school and/or on weekends in the event that either you or your
ex-spouse/ex-partner work outside normal business hours.
- Whether there are any particular issues relating to your child/children’s health or any particular issues relating to either your or your ex-spouse/ex-partner’s health.
What do I do if I reach agreement?
If you reach agreement with your ex-spouse/ex-partner it is best to get the Family Law Courts to make an order that reflects your agreement. The benefit of a court order is that if your ex-spouse/ex-partner does not stick with the agreement you can go to the court and have the agreement enforced. We can help in preparing the paperwork for you to obtain an order to reflect your agreement.
What happens if I do not reach agreement?
If you do not reach an agreement with your ex-spouse/ex-partner then we can apply to the Family Law Courts for orders for the living arrangements for your children or the terms upon which you might be able to spend time with your children. In most cases you are required to attend a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) with a mediator before going to court to try and come to an agreement first. If the mediation and negotiations do not resolve the issue, the case is referred for trial.
What happens to your child/children whilst we are waiting for a trial to be heard?
The court will often make interim orders (orders made in the meantime) about your child whilst you and your ex-spouse/ex-partner wait for the trial. These interim orders can be very important because once you get to trial one of the things the courts will consider is the status quo (that is the current situation). If your child is well settled with the interim arrangements the court may be reluctant to change those arrangements. You can now see why it is so important to get legal advice early.
Are there time limits?
You can make an application to the Family Law Courts for orders about your children’s issues at any time. If your circumstances change or your ex-spouse/ex-partner’s circumstances change, you can reapply to the court for the existing orders to be changed and new orders to be made.