Parenting Issues

The arrangements which you make for your children must be in their best interests. This is the most important thing for the Court to consider when it makes a decision for children, either by consent or after a hearing.

Each case is different but there are a number of factors the Court considers when deciding what is in a child’s best interests. Recent changes to the Act have streamlined these factors so that safety for children is front and centre.

• the safety of the child and people who care for the child (including any history of family violence and family violence orders)
• the child’s views
• the developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs of the child
• the capacity of each person who will be responsible for the child to provide for the child’s developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural needs
• the benefit to the child of having a relationship with their parents, and other people who are significant to them (e.g. grandparents and siblings), and
• anything else that is relevant to the particular circumstances of the child.

If the court is making orders about an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child, the court will also consider how parenting arrangements will help that child to experience their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

If you are asking the court to determine parenting orders, it is important that you provide the court with reasons why the orders you want are in the best interests of your child.

Will the children spend equal time with both of us?
There is no rule as to how much time children will spend with each of their parents and the arrangements will be tailored to what is in each child’s best interests taking into account the above factors.

Can I change my child’s school without telling his/her other parent?
Here we are talking about parental responsibility in terms of how parents decide major long-term issues for their children about, for example, education, health, medical, religion and cultural issues. A Court can make an order for joint-decision making which will require consultation between parents in order to make a genuine effort to come to a joint decision or it can make an order for one parent to have sole parental responsibility, or a combination of both. Ultimately whether parents have joint or sole parental responsibility will turn on the facts of each case and what is in a child’s best interests.

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Need legal advice working through your parenting issues? We are Reid Family Lawyers and we are your trusted specialist family lawyers, helping clients in the Eastern Suburbs, Inner West, and Northern Beaches. Speak to us today about your issues regarding your rights and responsibilities as a parent.

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