Child Custody Disputes

At Balmoral Legal, we understand that few, if any, things in life are more important to you than your children and their wellbeing. We also understand that after a separation you are often vulnerable, emotionally traumatised, and concerned for the future.

After the breakdown of a relationship, it may be necessary to make arrangements for the ongoing care and parenting of the children. In most cases, arrangements may be agreed between the parents. Where parents are unable to agree to the ongoing care and parenting of the children, then it may be necessary to commence proceedings in the Family Court.

The rules governing the Family Court in respect of children require that the Court focus on the rights of the children rather than those of their parents.

The ‘best interests’ of the children is widely known but rarely understood. In law this phrase has a very specific and complex meaning. The Family Court considers the best interests of the child to be paramount. However there is a presumption that it is in the best interests of children for their parents to have “equal shared responsibility”.

This does not mean that it is automatically in the best interests of children to spend equal time with their parents. What it does mean is that, subject to concerns regarding abuse, harm, or neglect, each parent should have meaningful involvement in the lives of their children.

When making arrangements for children, you will need to consider a number of significant issues such as:

  • Where the children will live;
  • How their time will be divided between the households;
  • What the parenting arrangements will be;
  • What arrangements need to be made for things such as schooling, school holidays, health care, sport, or extra-curricular activities; and
  • How much time the children will spend with significant people in their lives such as grandparents and cousins.

We understand that many people are reluctant to engage in the legal process, especially if they have reached an agreement in respect of the children.

The legal process can be expensive and emotional so it is important to be cautious in your approach. In determining whether you need to do anything else you may wish to consider the following:

  • Is your agreement verbal or in writing?
  • Is your agreement binding by law?
  • If your former spouse or partner breaches the agreement, what will happen?
  • What happens if your former spouse or partner remarries or has a child with someone else?
  • Will you be able to agree on future schools, medical treatments and interstate or overseas holidays?

Our experienced family law team can provide you with comprehensive advice in respect of your children’s matter and any proposed arrangements.

Our office can formalise any agreement reached in a quick and cost effective way (relative to the cost of litigation). Once it is formalised, it can be binding and enforceable in law.

Where no agreement can be reached, our office can assist with the preparation of materials and representation at the Family Court. Please contact our office on (08) 9355 0776 to discuss your matter with one of our experienced solicitors.