There are many things that can cause a relationship to break down. Sometimes issues can be sorted out by talking things through, or by attending family mediation. But not every relationship is meant to be, and if you’re part of couple going through a break up or divorce, you may be living through and learning about the legal complexities around custody during a marriage breakdown.
Child custody laws are very contentious and debates about their fairness in Australia and globally are ongoing. Australia’s child custody laws fall under the Australian Parliamentary Family Law Act, 1975. This is the main legislation that oversees divorce, parenting arrangements and property arrangements involving children.
Regardless of controversy, there are clear rights and obligations that you have if you are separating from your partner and are in disagreement about parental access or your custody arrangement.
Here’s what you should know and some important next steps…
Try to Resolve It
Before you go to court to sort out custody of your children, you must make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute through mediation. This is required before legal proceedings can begin.
You can reach an informal agreement with your partner, but it will often be important to seek legal advice, as the agreements you make about where children live and where they spend their time can also affect other property matters or child support rulings.
Create a Parenting Plan
Parents are able to enter formal agreements regarding the living and custody arrangements of their children. These are known as Parenting Plans. A lawyer can help you create a legal Parenting Plan, which must be signed and dated by you and your partner to be valid.
These are important documents as you can use a Parenting Plan in Court if you experience issues with agreed arrangements in the future.
With the help of a lawyer, you can file a Consent Order of negotiations with the other parent. Once approved by the Courts these are legally binding.
The Courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child, so it’s imperative that professional legal advice is obtained so that decisions can be made on issues such as:
- Who the child will live with
- How much time the child will spend with each respective parent
- How parental responsibility will be shared
- How parents will communicate
- How disputes will be resolved
A legal professional will also be able to help resolve matters on child support, as well as property and assets.
What Are My Rights?
Under the Family Law Act, all couples have the same rights in relation to the distribution of property and child support, whether married, de facto or same-sex.
We understand that relationship or marriage breakdowns are extremely stressful. Through these difficult times, you need someone dependable to help see you through. We concentrate on addressing your personal needs, whilst ensuring that we act swiftly to secure the best interests of you and your children and that you’re treated fairly in Court.
Whether your dispute relates to children, property, or both, our family and divorce lawyers are focused on providing comprehensive, timely and relevant advice and support.
With no upfront fees, we also offer the first 30 minutes of your initial consultation completely free, so we can assess your needs, and ensure you are fully informed of your options. We have four offices throughout Melbourne that offer a wide range of legal services. Contact us here to find out more.