What if my ex-partner and I cannot agree about whom the children will live with or how much time I can spend with my children?
If you and your ex-partner have gone to Family Dispute Resolution and you have been unable to reach an agreement on parenting issues, you can apply to the Court for parenting orders. Parenting Orders usually (but not in all cases) set out which parent the children shall predominately live with and how many days the children shall spend time with the other parent.
The guiding principle for determining which parent the children shall live with is “the best interests of the children”.
What matters does the Court take into account when making a decision about what is the children’s best interests?
The Court takes into account a number of considerations in deciding what is in the children’s best interests. There are two (2) primary considerations and there also additional considerations.
The primary considerations are:
- The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
- The child being protected from physical or psychological harm from being exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence;
Additional considerations include the following:
- The nature of the child’s relationships with his or her parents and significant others (ie grandparents, siblings and other relatives);
- The child’s views as well as taking into account the child’s maturity and level of understanding;
- The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances including the likely effect on the child of any separation from either of his or her parents or any other child or other relative living with the child;
- Each parent’s capacity to provide for the child’s needs;
- Any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family;
- The parents’ attitude to the child and the responsibilities of parenthood;
- The practical difficulty of the child spending time and communicating with the other parent;
- The maturity, sex, lifestyle, culture and traditions of the child or the child’s parents.
What happens if my ex-partner does not comply with Court orders in respect of our children?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may file a Contravention Application. If the other parent does not have a reasonable excuse for not complying with parenting orders, the Court can order the other parent to attend a post-separation parenting program as well as order that you have make up time with the children.
In more serious cases of non-compliance with Court orders, the Court can order the other parent to enter into a bond and to comply with certain conditions such as completing an anger management course or drug/alcohol counselling or impose fines or even an imprisonment term as a very last resort.
Can I move with the children to another city or another country after separation?
Yes but in exceptional circumstances. Generally, if you intend to move to another city or country with the children, it is always best to try to reach an agreement with the other parent before your intended move as well as to discuss how the children will continue having a relationship with the other parent after your move. If this is not possible, then you will need to apply to the Court seeking to relocate to the children to the other city or country. The Court will take into account a number of factors including both yours and the other parent’s proposal in determining whether the children moving to another location is in their best interests.
Can I change the previous Orders about our children?
If the other parent does not agree to change the parenting orders, you will need to demonstrate that there has been a significant change of circumstances. For example, the existing Court orders may no longer reflect the child’s needs or the child’s current circumstances may have significantly changed since the previous parenting orders had been made. The Court will hear all the relevant evidence before making a determination as to whether it is appropriate to change the existing parenting orders.
For any specific advice on children and parenting matters, speak to our Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer today.