Child Residence and Contact

It is of the utmost importance that parents understand that every child has a right to know and spend time with their parents and other people important to them, such as extended family. To this end, the Family and Federal Court, under the direction of the Family Law Act 1975, will always consider what is in the child or children's best interests when deciding who a child or children will live with, what time they will spend with their parents and family, and what orders should be made to facilitate that time. It is in the child's best interests to have a relationship with both parents, unless there are strong reasons why this should not happen.

Both parents automatically have joint parental responsibility for their child or children. This can only change by imposing Court Orders where one parent seeks sole parental responsibility. These situations occur when the child is at risk of violence, or drug or alcohol is prevalent in their surroundings.

Without an Order defining the division of parental responsibility, each parent may act unilaterally with respect to the children. This can create conflict and affect the relationship between the parents and the children with often disastrous results.

In most cases, parents are able to come to a joint arrangement that benefits all parties involved. If further assistance is needed, we can assist by negotiating an outcome on a party's behalf, referring them to an appropriate Counsellor of Dispute Resolution Service, or commencing proceedings at Court.

In certain matters involving children the Court may appoint a lawyer to act for the children for various reasons, such as:

  1. 1.Conflict or distrust between the parents;
  2. 2.Separation of siblings is being suggested;
  3. 3.Allegations that a child has been abused or is at risk of abuse;
  4. 4.Allegations of violence;
  5. 5.Cultural differences impacting parenting arrangements.

For more information, or to discuss your children's arrangements, please contact our office.