For some parents, this works without too much hassle. Sometimes however, parents just can't agree and require assistance to reach a resolution whether it be by means of mediation, negotiations through family lawyers or litigation in the Family Law Courts.
If your children are living with their other parent, they have the right to spend meaningful time with you, too. That is a presumption that applies unless a court is satisfied you or your former spouse spending time with the children would not be in their best interests.
Sometimes parents are worried about their children's safety or care with the other parent. They need somewhere to raise their concerns and have the parenting arrangements for their children clearly spelled out. When parents are unable to come to an agreement about plans for their children, the court will make the decisions for them if called upon to do so. Ideally, a schedule might be reached that allows children to have equal time with each parent. As a practical matter, however, that is not always possible.
How much time you can spend with your children depends on a number of factors. One of the most important factors is whether that decision is made by the court or whether you can reach an agreement with the other parent.
The Family Law Courts in Australia encourage parents to make their own decisions about parenting, including where children will live and how often they will spend time with a parent with whom they do not reside. In most cases, you cannot ask a court for a parenting order to resolve those issues until you have engaged in a family dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation, in an attempt to reach an agreement with the other parent.
Obviously, it is best to reach an agreement with the other parent, if possible. You and the other parent have a better understanding of your situation than a stranger who judges your case. No agreement reached through compromise is perfect, but negotiating a schedule for spending time with your children will often give you a more satisfying result than leaving that decision to a judge.
In some cases however, the other parent refuses to recognise your children’s entitlement to have meaningful relationship with you and/or fails to negotiate in good faith. You will need to work closely with your family lawyer to decide whether continuing the family dispute resolution process would be futile and whether a judge will likely make a parenting order that gives you more time with your children than the other parent will agree to give you.
The law about parenting arrangements changed a few years ago and some of the ideas and words used are different nowadays. One of the most important changes to the Family Law Act is that it makes the children's best interests the paramount consideration.
Unless it is contrary to a child’s best interests, a child has a right to:
The words “custody”, “access”, “guardianship” and “contact” are no longer used. Decisions made are about who the children will “live with”, “spend time with” and “communicate with”.
The law now says children have the right to spend time with and communicate with both parents.
It is not about parents' rights to see their children.
The amount of time you can spend with your children depends upon how these factors fit within the principle that both parents should spend the maximum amount of time with their children that is consistent with their best interests.
Whether you are only wanting to come in for an initial consultation to ask about your matter, or you are already involved in court proceedings, we would be pleased to advise you and act for you, if necessary. Call us at Taylor & Scott Lawyers Sydney on 1800 600 664.