If you are going through a separation or divorce, it can be a very stressful period in your life. If you have children, this process can be even more complicated and anxiety ridden. Child custody is now generally referred to as parenting arrangements for children where primary care and visitation is agreed or ordered.
Its recommended that you always see a family lawyer. A lawyer can tell you your family law rights and obligations. You can learn about the process to reach a fair decision with your former partner.
This post provides information about child custody laws so you know what to expect.
Separation – things to consider at the beginning
You will need to agree with your partner on a short-term solution for your day-to-day routine with your children. This decision needs to include:
- where the children will live,
- who will stay in the family home,
- the amount of time the children will have with each parent, and
- who needs to contribute to child support.
Every situation is different. Sometimes these decisions are easily made within families and sometimes they’re not. If you and your former partner are having difficulty agreeing on where children should live, it might be a good idea to receive some counselling to help you come to an agreement.
If you still can’t agree, a family lawyer may need to get interim court orders to help sort out a temporary agreement that works for your children.
Avoiding court proceedings
If there are children involved in your separation, you probably won’t want them having to see their parents go through court proceedings. There are other ways to separate without having to use the courts.
- Family dispute resolution.
- Collaborative law.
- Child-inclusive processes.
However, if you and your partner are separating because of domestic violence or a power imbalance, court proceedings may need to happen.
Just because you have separated from or divorced your partner, it doesn’t mean you no longer have any parental obligations. Parental obligations don’t end until your child has turned 18.
You need to ensure that you keep your child’s best interests in mind. For big parenting decisions, you should consult with your former partner to ensure you both agree.
Child custody laws – Court decisions
If you do go to court over in relation to the parenting arrangements for your children, the court will decide on formal parenting matters, such as:
- Where and with whom a child should reside.
- How much time a child should spend with each parent.
- How responsible each parent is for the different areas of raising their child.
- When parents will need to communicate about how their child is raised.