What about the kids? Parenting after separation When going through a separation, every couple will need to address parenting after separation by deciding what is going to happen with their children. It is the reality of a separating couple that the time that they spent with their children will change. This can be a confronting and confusing time for both you and your partner. Because of this, separating couples sometimes avoid talking about parenting after separation and what they want, which ultimately only leads to more confusion and confrontation.
It is because of this that we highly recommend that separating couples with children do all that they can to come to an arrangement about their children as soon as they can.
What does the law say about parenting?
The Family Law Act says that all decisions that are made about parenting must be made to maintain the ‘bests interests of the child’. This means that it is the interests of your children that will be considered before all else.
The term ‘bests interests of the child’ is used time and time again throughout the Family Law Act. To determine what is in the best interests of your children, the Court would consider the benefit of your children having a meaningful relationship with both you and your partner, and also the need to protect your children from any harm. There are secondary considerations that the Court will also look at to assist it in determining what is in the bests interests of children, including the presence of family violence, the ability to meet the needs of the children, and views that the children may express (depending on their age and maturity).
The Family Law Act says that the court needs to make a decision about where children will live if their parents aren’t able to reach an agreement. The Family Law Act says that children can live with both parents equally, and where that is not in a child’s best interests, children will live with one parent and spend time with another on a substantial significant basis. What these arrangements look like in reality is different for every family.
What do we have to do to put an arrangement into place?
When possible, it is best for parents and their kids when parents work together to make parenting arrangements for their children.
There are a couple of ways that you and your partner can come to an agreement.
The first way is to have a conversation. If you and your partner are able to have a safe, calm, amicable and practical discussion about what needs to happen, then we strongly encourage you to do so.
If you feel as though you are not able to talk about parenting arrangements without arguing, it may be necessary to reach out to a mediation service. Details of different mediation services are below.
You may also use a solicitor to negotiate with your partner.
Whether you are able to discuss it privately, you require mediation, or you engage with a solicitor, it is very important that you get your parenting arrangements put into writing. Putting the agreement into writing provides each of you with some certainty about the arrangements and can greatly assists in reducing conflict.
We highly recommend speaking with a family law solicitor about the best way to formalise the agreement that you have come to.
What happens when we can’t agree?
If you aren’t able to reach an agreement yourselves, you should speak to a solicitor if you haven’t already. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate way forward.
The Family Law Act requires that where parties cannot reach an agreement themselves, they must attempt mediation if they have not done so already.
If mediation was unsuccessful, or it is not appropriate, then it will be necessary to make an application to the Court to have a decision made for you.
I am worried for the safety of my children
If you have immediate concerns for your safety or the safety of your children, contact the police immediately.
We strongly recommend that you speak with a family law solicitor as soon as you can.
Who do I call now?
To speak with a solicitor from our family law team, call Nikki from Coutts Solicitors on 1300 268 887 for a free, one hour consultation.
For mediation, we recommend the following services:
- Relationships Australia – Lvl 2, 121 Queen Street, Campbelltown – 4221 2000
- Family Relationship Centre Campbelltown – Macarthur Square – 02 4629 7000
- Beyond Now Counselling – 7 Broughton Street, Camden – 0408 029 952
- The Mediation Centre – 3/36 Woodriff Street, Penrith – 02 4761 6930