Children and Parenting

Divorce is a difficult process, even if you do not have children. But it can be especially hard when there are kids involved in the divorce proceedings.

Family law is an area that can involve a lot of legal complexity and the process of obtaining a parenting order is often confusing.

Most separating and divorcing parents have very strong feelings about raising their children and may not be able to agree on how best to do so. Nevertheless, some people try to work out their custody arrangements without the help of lawyers or courts.

However, this can lead to problems if one parent wishes to obtain sole custody, while the other wants shared custody with equal time spent between parents.

If these disagreements become irreconcilable, it may be necessary to seek out a third-party mediator or judge who will decide the details about the care of the children.

When it comes to making decisions about your child’s custody, you must know what options are available and how they will affect your case.

In these situations, it is best for both parties to seek legal advice before going to the courts. We can help you get your desired outcome in family law proceedings involving divorce and child custody matters.

This article will discuss parenting orders and their implications for children and the process involved in obtaining one. Having this information at your fingertips will help you better understand how to proceed with your case and what steps you should take if you are considering divorce proceedings involving custody arrangements for children.

Parenting Order Basics

A parenting order is simply a court order that sets out who is responsible for what aspects of a child’s care. This can include who the child spends time with, communicates with, and lives with. It also may cover other issues that are relevant to the child’s care such as schooling and medical care.

Parenting orders can be executed in one of two ways. First, if both parties agree to the terms, they can bring a consent order to the court for approval. If the parties are unable to agree, then the parenting order will be made by the court after a hearing or trial.

When creating a parenting order, the main consideration of the court is whether the proposed plan is in the best interests of the child. In doing so, the court is particularly watchful to protect the child from abuse and violence. The court will also do its best to ensure that all the important people in the child’s life have an opportunity to maintain a relationship.

It is important to note the creation of a parenting order may impact other agreements or court orders. For example, a parenting order may change the amount of child support a party has to pay or will receive.

For all of these reasons, we highly recommended you get legal advice prior to starting the parenting order process.

Parenting Order Application

Although it is always preferable for parents and caregivers to agree on child care and custody arrangements, it does not always happen. The next step is usually family dispute resolution. However, sometimes even this does not work, in which case a decision must be made by a family court.

Parenting orders are most commonly made because the parties cannot agree on living and visitation arrangements for the children. However, there are other times when parenting orders may be put into place. This often happens in emergency situations, when there is suspected abuse or family violence, or when there is the possibility of child abduction.

Although either parent can apply for a parenting order, there is a requirement for both parents to attempt family dispute resolution in most cases. Only when the family dispute resolution specialist provides a certificate stating that it is no longer worthwhile, that the court will allow the application process to begin.

Because other people in a child’s life are important to them, the parents are not the only ones who are allowed to make a parenting order application. Grandparents and other extended family members may also apply to be included in an order.

In complex cases, a family consultant may be directed by the court to evaluate the situation. These professionals are social workers or child psychologists who routinely advise the family law court.

The consultant will often be directed to create a family report to help the court understand the family dynamics and the issues of the dispute more clearly. They design this document to help the court determine what parenting arrangements are in the child’s best interests.

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Court Considerations

At all times, the primary consideration of the family law court is to determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. This means that the court is looking to protect the child from emotional and physical harm, while still allowing them to have a meaningful relationship with both parents if at all possible.

However, if those two goals conflict, protecting the child will have the greater weight.

Among other things, the court will consider:

  • the views of the children
  • the relationships the children have with their parents
  • the historical involvement of the parents with the children – time, decision-making, financial, etc
  • the practical challenges of seeing all the parties
  • the parent’s ability to care for the children’s needs
  • the right of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children to have access to their culture
  • any history of violence by a parent

The court’s assumption is that parents have equal shared duties and responsibilities to their children. Of course, this does not mean they have a right to equal parenting time or joint custody.

Rather, it means both parents should have a role in decisions that have an important and long-term impact on the children – things like medical, religious, cultural, and educational matters.

This leads the court to consider whether the children should spend equal time with their parents or simply spend “substantial and significant” time with both parents.

This time would include holidays, weekends, and some weekdays with a parent, but not an equal split. It also would ensure both parents get the children for some meaningful days such as birthdays or school events.

Of course, there are some practical considerations to the court’s decision. The distance between parental homes and the parents’ ability to communicate productively and resolve difficulties will impact the final verdict.

Melbourne Parenting Divorce Lawyers

Divorce is a difficult time for everyone involved.

And it is more so if there are children concerned. If you’re looking for help with parenting orders, we have the experience to guide you through this process.

We understand the importance of getting the right result for your family and will work hard to ensure that happens. You want to make sure that your children are taken care of, so we take all the steps needed to ensure you get custody of your children.

You deserve peace of mind during this time in your life. Our team has helped many families navigate these complicated waters before, and they’ll do everything possible to make sure yours is too.

Our firm has more than 20 years of experience representing clients in complex family law cases involving children, including those who need parenting orders from their divorce or other legal matters related to custody arrangements for children.

If you need help, or simply want to know more about parenting orders, contact us today. We’ll answer any questions you have and be there for you.

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