Most parents usually speak about sole custody, joint custody, access and visitation. These terms were used pre-2007, but are not used in family law anymore. Though somewhat cumbersome in sentences, family law now uses the terms lives with and spends time with in relation to children’s living arrangements.
Philosophically, the change in terms shows a shift in perspective – from the child being an object that a parent could have custody or possession of, to the child’s experience being the central consideration.
You won’t find a single reference to parent’s rights, father’s rights or mother’s rights in the Family Law Act. Instead, it is children who have rights. Parents have responsibilities and obligations. Under the Family Law Act:
There is a presumption that both parents have equal shared parental responsibility for decisions concerning the major long term issues for their children, including where the children live, where they go to school, their religious upbringing, medical treatment, and changes to their name. In the absence of any domestic violence or child abuse, this presumption will apply.
This means that decisions about major long term issues are to be made jointly by both parents in consultation with each other – one parent can’t choose a school and announce to the other that this is how it’s going to be; neither parent can move the children far away from where the other parent lives.
Equal shared parental responsibility does not mean equal time. There is no legal presumption that children are better off living with one parent or the other, and the child’s best interests are always the paramount consideration.
The shared parenting laws acknowledge that it is usually in a child’s best interests for both parents to having a meaningful involvement in the child’s lives. This meaningful involvement is usually promoted and maintained by regular time and communication.
Of course, every family is different, and different arrangements may be considered to be in your children’s best interests based on your particular circumstances.
Similarly to family law property matters, we aim to assist you to reach a quick, amicable and cost-effective outcome whenever possible. We try to work with your wants and needs, and also work very hard not to ‘de-rail’ the process.
No matter what the circumstances are, we will always ensure that we are in our client’s corner, and we are strong advocates for our clients.
Here at Samford Family Law, we will provide you with the advice relevant to you and your situation, along with the options and practical steps towards finalising your family law matter. We also aim to give well-rounded advice, often touching upon other areas of law whenever needed either by providing advice (if it’s within our expertise), or providing referrals within our trusted network to assist you to consider all aspects.
You have a number of options for formalising parenting arrangements for your children:
"I can’t thank you enough for all of your help getting me through a difficult time"