For many years’ parents have fought to have custody of their child after separation or divorce. As the law has evolved, the term “custody” fell out of use as it had connotations of ownership of the child.
The law as it stands now gives the child the right to “spend time” with each of its parents and significant other family members.
If parents can’t agree on how much time the child can spend with each of them, they may ask the court to make a determination for them. When the court makes a decision about parenting matters, it must satisfy itself of a number of factors which are set out in the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act).
The Act states that the “best interests of the child” are the most important consideration and any decision the court makes has to be in the best interests of the child. The primary considerations of the court are firstly that the child has a meaningful relationship with both parents and secondly that the child is protected from physical and psychological harm. There are then a number of additional consideration that the court must take into account.
Another determination the court would be required to make is who has the parental responsibility for the child. The court will always begin with the presumption that both parents will have equal shared parental responsibility for making long term decisions for the child and that they can at least communicate with each other for the benefit of the child. If communication is just not possible because of the personalities involved, then the court could make an order that one parent has sole parental responsibility for the child and can make the long term decisions for the child without the need to consult the other parent.
Before you take the step of going to court, you will need to attempt to resolve the issues with the help of an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner.
If you cannot reach agreement with your former partner about how much time your child spends with each of you, or if you want to formalise an existing agreement, we encourage you to come and see the team at A.L.F. Lawyers. We can explain how the law operates to protect the best interests of your child or children.
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DISCLAIMER – The information on this article is of a general nature only and may not reflect recent changes to certain areas of law. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for discussing your situation with a qualified legal practitioner A copy of this disclaimer should be attached to any material taken from this website.