Child Custody Lawyer in Melbourne

If you have separated and have children, living arrangements for the children need to be decided. Under the Family Law Act, parents are responsible for the care and welfare of their children until they reach 18 years of age. Our Child Custody Lawyers can help you reach an agreement about parenting matters and child custody arrangements.

Where a matter is not before the Court, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that the children have a meaningful relationship with both parents, and is protected from harm or abuse.

This means that a parent needs to be facilitative and supportive of the children spending time with the other parent. It means that neither parent may, for example, say bad things about the other parent to, or in the presence of, the children and must allow the other parent to have contact with the children.

Framework

In Australia, the Family law Act requires the best interest of the child to be considered, which encompasses several key considerations. It is important that children have a meaningful relationship with each parent, and they are protected from harm. The Family Law Act also presumes that each parent has ‘equal shared parental responsibility’. ‘Parental responsibility’ is all about the legal duty, power, responsibility, and authority a parent has in relation to a child. A person with parental responsibility for a child is responsible for all matters relating to, for example, the care, welfare, and development of a child, such as the child’s schooling, cultural upbringing, health, name, and living arrangements.

This responsibility does not change because the relationship between the children’s parents breaks down.

Understand “What the Child’s Best Interest Means in Court“.

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Parenting and Child Custody Arrangements

A parenting plan is a non-binding agreement between parties which sets out the agreed parenting arrangements for the children. A parenting plan is an inexpensive alternative which allows the parties greater flexibility in preparation and control of the arrangements. However, it is important to be aware a parenting plan is not binding. If one party does not comply with the agreement there is no mechanism of enforcement.

Parenting Plan

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement about children’s matters, or if there are urgent issues that need to be addressed, Family Court proceedings may be necessary. We can represent you in court and guide you through what can otherwise be a confusing process. With our experience and expertise, you can be sure that your case will be presented to the court in a way that achieves your desired outcome for your children.

Parenting Order (Consent Order)

If the parties agree on the parenting arrangements of the children, a parenting order may be made. This involves an application to the court for consent orders which sets out the parenting arrangements including who the child will live with, the time they spend with each parent or relative, communication between the parent and the children and any other aspect of care and welfare for the child.

The benefit of a parenting order is that it is binding. The order is granted and endorsed by the court. If one party does not follow the order, an application can be brought to the court for contravention.

You must try to resolve the matter

Parties to a parenting dispute are required to attend compulsory mediation with a family dispute resolution practitioner to attempt to resolve the dispute before making application to the Court. A certificate known as a “section 60I Certificate” will be issued after the family dispute resolution process is undertaken, which a party can then use in support of their application to the Court. There are exceptions to this rule, such as urgency.

The Court Process

If you are unable to settle or matter, then you may be forced to seek the assistance of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) to resolve your matter.

Your case in will be commenced once all attempts to resolve your case by negotiation have failed.

A case in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia starts by filing the following documents:

  • An Initiating Application. This sets out the orders you want the court to make and has some brief details about you.
  • An affidavit. This is the evidence you will rely on to have the court make the orders you want
  • A Genuine Steps Certificate, confirming the applicant’s compliance with the pre-action procedures;
  • A 60I certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, unless a party submits that an exemption applies, in which case an affidavit or an Affidavit – Non-Filing of Family Dispute Resolution Certificate setting out the factual basis of the exception claimed under;
  • A Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk;
  • A Parenting Questionnaire;
  • An Undertaking as to Disclosure;
  • A copy of any family violence order affecting the child or a member of the child’s family; and;
  • If the application seeks interlocutory orders, an affidavit stating the facts relied on in support of the interlocutory orders sought.

Once your matter is in court, there are a number of things which will be considered such as the best interests of the child.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Before making an application to the court, the Family Law Act requires parties to make an attempt to resolve disputes by using family dispute resolutions services (FDR). There are some exceptions which may include an urgent application, allegations of family violence, and allegations of abuse.

When making a parenting order, the court does not hear from the children directly as they do not go to Court. The children’s views are obtained by a Family report or through an Independent Children’s Lawyer (if one is appointed). While the children’s views may be useful to the court, it does not mean the court will make an order for what the children want. The court will determine and make orders for what is in the child’s best interest.

The ICL assists the court in deciding what arrangements are in the children’s best interest. The ICL obtains information about the children’s views, collates relevant information, and provides this to the court. The ICL makes recommendations and proposes arrangement which would be in the child’s best interest.

We highly recommend seeking legal advice as every person’s situation is different. The Family Law Act presumes that both parents have equal shared parental responsibility for the children (subject to any existing court Order). This can be rebutted if there are instances of family violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or any other factor which may be detrimental to the child. Please contact us today to receive specific legal advice about seeing your children.

It does not matter which parent agreement you enter. Although, we highly recommend entering a binding agreement such as a consent order as this will ensure that if any party does not comply with their obligations, an application can be made for contravention.

The court have jurisdiction to hear a number of other parenting matters which include: changing an existing order, relocation and travel, contravention, recovery, adoption, grant parents and/or carers, change or name and proof of parentage.

What our clients say…

Thank you Kristdel for doing both our Wills, very professional, helpful, friendly and efficient. Highly recommended.

Linda

Kristdel and the team have just helped me through a very difficult time. They were very professional, experienced and caring. I highly recommend The Family Lawyer.

Patrick

Excellent service, they managed to show compassion for my stupidity, we laughed together

Elizabeth

I had a really good experience the last few times I have visited their office. Great group of people to have on your side.

Sohail

Friendly, professional and understanding staff. I was given great advice on what would be best to do in my situation and they handled it quickly, considered my wants/needs and made sure they were met and the whole process was stress-free. Couldn’t be more thankful for the great service.

Jaqcui

I highly recommend Kristdel for any family related matters. She is super responsive and helpful professional in all your family related requirements. I know her and the Family Lawyer firm for a long period now. And they are good partners to work with. Highly recommend.

Chamara

The team at the Family Lawyer were amazing. Kristdel was so calming and really helped me out during a hard and emotional time. She was upfront about how much everything was going to cost and kept things on track so it didn’t drag on. I don’t know where I would be without her. Thank you!

Kent

During this stressful time, I found Kristdel at The Family Lawyer to be particularly helpful. She demonstrated great empathy and responsiveness. She clearly outlined the options available to me, the pros and cons of each together with her final recommendation. As a result, I was confident that I was well informed and that she understood what was important to me. The issue was also resolved promptly and with a highly satisfactory outcome.

Matt

Kristdel helped with some much needed clarity in regards to financial obligations of a separation. Highly recommended

Simon

Really happy with their service. Thank you.

Teodor

Thank you so much Kristdel! I was stressing about my separation and what it would involve and Kristdel could see I was very anxious so she let her black lab come into our consultation! It was so calming, I can’t thank you enough for being so empathetic.

Harleigh

Kristdel is an amazing lawyer. That’s the vibe I got, from the first initial call. Very happy with the service, very professional and prompt, no jargon, 100% committed to my needs. Quick to respond and very thoughtful.

The Local Gardener

Extremely happy with the service I got, Christian was very professional and responsive he made sure everything was ready and nothing was left to chance. I got an outcome beyond what I expected!They were very accomodating with their fees.

Scott

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We’re here to help answer your questions. We take great pride in using our expertise for you and look forward to speaking with you.

During your initial free consultation we will:

  • Discuss your circumstances
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