Being separated is difficult for both parents and children. Understanding the basic principles and terminology in the Family Law Act is a good starting point when faced with separation.
1. Parental Responsibility – Until a court makes an order otherwise, both parents have equal shared parental responsibility.
2. Best Interest of the Child – Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 sets out the factors the court will consider when assessing what is in the best interest of a child.
3. Equal time – The court should consider equal time and if it is reasonably practicable and in the best interest of the child. Important and relevant considerations are: the age of the child and the ability of the parents to communicate.
4. Agreements – An agreement can be documented in a parenting plan or in consent orders. Parenting plans are often recommended if children are very young for example under the age of 1. The terms of the agreement are not court orders; however, the agreement will be taken into consideration if the matter ever went to court. Consent orders are court orders and there are consequences if parties breach the orders.
5. Support for children and parents – These are services that can help during this time:
– The Family Relationship Advice line: 1800-050-321
– Kids Helpline: 1800-55-1800
Gillard Family Lawyers work to assist our clients during these difficult times. If you or someone you know needs assistance with a legal separation, please contact us and we will answer the questions you may have.