Following separation, many parents are able to reach agreement between themselves regarding arrangements for the care of their children. Often, non-legally binding agreements, known as Parenting Plans, are satisfactory for many parents. However, if there is a dispute about the post-separation parenting arrangements parents may need to attend a Family Dispute Resolution service for mediation, where a Parenting Plan can be drafted with the assistance of a third party, or otherwise engage a lawyer to negotiate on their behalf.
If parties cannot resolve their dispute through mediation, or family violence makes Family Dispute Resolution unsuitable, an Application to the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court for Parenting Orders may be necessary. Unlike Parenting Plans, Court Orders are enforceable and binding. Parties also have the option of entering into a Court Order by consent, without the need for attendance at Court.
Pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 , when making parenting orders, the paramount consideration of the Court is to make arrangements which are in the best interest of the children. When determining the best interests of the children, the two major considerations will be ensuring the children are protected from physical or psychological harm from being exposed to family violence; and to ensure the children have the benefit of a relationship with both parents. The Court will also take note of a range of other relevant considerations including:
- The relationship of the child with each parent
- How the parents have taken the opportunity to spend time with or communicate with the child
- Parents’ fulfillment of their obligations to the child
- How a change in circumstance will affect the child
- The capacity of each parent to provide for the child
- Depending on maturity, the views expressed by the child
- If relevant, the right of the child to enjoy their Aboriginal o Torres Strait Islander culture
Disputes can also arise between parents who have never lived together, and can also involve third parties such as grandparents who have an interest in the care, welfare and development of the children.
Nicholes Family Lawyers can assist you in all aspects of parenting disputes, from providing initial advice to give you the tools to assist you negotiate with your former partner, to negotiating on your behalf, or representing you in Court proceedings. Our lawyers are trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Collaborative law, and are able to refer you to counsellors and psychologists for therapeutic counselling if this is necessary.
At Nicholes Family Lawyers, we understand that each family is different and the most appropriate parenting arrangements will therefore be different for each family. Specialist family law advice should be obtained as soon as possible after separation.
The law regarding relocation of children is complex, and the outcome of any dispute regarding relocation will largely depend on each family’s own set of unique facts. If one parent wishes to relocate to another city, state or country, and this will interfere with the arrangements in place for the children to live with or spend time with the other parent, the consent of the other parent is required. If the other parent does not consent, and attempts to negotiate or mediate fail, an Application to the Family Court of Australia may be necessary. There is often no easy answer to relocation disputes and specialist legal advice is recommended. As in all parenting disputes, the Family Court will make Orders regarding any possible relocation that are considered to be in the best interests of the children.
At Nicholes Family Lawyers, we are experienced in representing clients who are seeking to relocate with their children, as well as those who oppose relocation. We always attempt to resolve relocation disputes without resorting to litigation. However, we are experienced in all aspects of representing clients in Court if this becomes necessary.
Hague Convention Matters
One area that sets Nicholes Family Lawyers apart from other family law firms is their focus, skills and expertise in Hague Convention matters.
The Hague Convention is an international treaty to which Australia is a party, that seeks to protect children from international abduction and retention across international borders. The Convention provides a mechanism for seeking the return of children who have been abducted either from Australia, or to Australia from another country (if that county is also party to the Hague Convention).
Nicholes Family Lawyers has been involved in various high profile international abduction cases, successfully returning abducted children to their parents or other persons concerned with their safety and wellbeing. We have also acted successfully for a number of parents seeking to retain their child/children in Australia from other Hague Convention countries in circumstances where defences can be argued for the non-return of a child/children to a Hague Convention country.
Nicholes Family Lawyers recognises the key requirements and criteria for making applications to the Family Court of Australia under the Hague Convention as well as dealing with international authorities and jurisdictional hurdles in a variety of countries around the world.
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