The Family Law Act is key piece of legislation that deals with care arrangements for children following a separation. The law acknowledges the importance for children of having a relationship with parents and other family members, however, for the Judge, the focus is on the rights of the children, not the “rights” of parents.

In each case, the Court must decide what is best for that particular child. In determining what is in a child’s best interests, one of the key considerations for the Court is the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. This is balanced against the need to protect children from harm and from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

Rather than focusing on what your rights are, or what might be fair, try to think about what would work for your children based on their age, emotional attachments and practical considerations. A 50/50 arrangement might sound good in theory, but how will it actually work? And will it be beneficial for your kids?

Although parents do not have “rights” as such, in most cases, provided it is safe, it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with both parents. If possible, the best arrangement will be one that you and your ex agree to rather than asking the Court to decide. If the two of you can work together as a team and develop a co-parenting alliance, the arrangements you put in place can be shaped to suit your particular family.

Court can be lengthy, expensive and can further impact your co-parenting relationship. Litigation can also expose children to conflict. There are many out of court options available for parents to reach agreement and there are also child experts available to give you advice about what might work for your children.

This article contains general information only. You should obtain independent legal advice particular to your circumstances.

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