In every separation involving children, the law requires all parties to act in the children’s best interests. This means that any agreement or parenting Order must reflect what is absolutely in the best interests of the child or children including, where they live, what education they receive, who cares for them and what time they spend with different members of their family.
Children have the right to spend time with and develop a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. Children have the right to maintain contact with anyone on their side of the family including a grandparent, an uncle or an aunt or any other person who is concerned for their care, welfare and development.
Both parents have equal shared parental responsibility for their children unless a Court has determined otherwise. When parents separate, the parent with whom the child is spending time has responsibility for the day to day issues. Long term issues affecting a child’s care, welfare and development such as what health care they receive, their religious and cultural upbringing and what school they attend should not be made without consulting the other parent.
If parents cannot agree on what arrangements should be in place for their children, they should contact a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Practitioner. Attending upon an FDR Practitioner is a mandatory requirement before commencing proceedings in the Family Court seeking parenting orders. There are some exceptions including, if there has been a history of violence in the relationship.