Divorce and separation can be one of the most challenging events in any couple’s life. It can also be made even more complicated when children are involved, and you have to ensure that whatever decisions you make are with their best interests in mind.
That’s why many couples decide to seek help from a family lawyer. Not only can they assist with divorce proceedings preparation and property division, but they can also help you understand the intricacies of parenting agreements, otherwise known as child custody, when you’re going through the divorce or separation process.
As you embark on this emotional and traumatic life journey, take a moment to consider the benefits of consulting a family lawyer to help you learn about some of the following things.
Under Australian law, the more common term of ‘custody’ is known as parental responsibility. This describes who is legally responsible for a child and who can make decisions about their lives and wellbeing.
For example, this person or persons may decide where the child receives education, the religion they are brought up with, and any significant medical decisions that will be made on their behalf. The Australia Family Law Act 1975 outlines a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have parents sharing equal parental responsibility. However, this presumption can be refuted if there is evidence of abuse, violence, or that it is not in the best interests of the child for other reasons.
Determining Who a Child Should Live With and Spend Time With
Your chosen family lawyer and the courts spend time determining who a child should live with and the people they should spend time with. It’s easy to assume that ‘shared parental responsibility’ means each parent will spend an equal amount of time with their child, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Sometimes, how much time a child spends with each parent and who they live with can depend on what is in their best interests. Often, family lawyers can help you navigate the court system with this issue, with the courts considering who the child has lived with in the past, their relationship with their parents, where each parent lives, where the child goes to school, and other circumstances.
Establishing a Parenting Order
One of the hardest decisions a parent ever has to make is determining how a parenting order will work with two parents. Family lawyers can help with this process by outlining the most common parenting orders to help you decide which is going to best suit your family’s needs.
One of the most common parenting orders that lawyers can help put in place is having children live with one parent for half the time and the other parent for the other half. You might also decide to have children live with one parent but have visits with another – either staying the night or visiting for the day. Supervised contact may also be a consideration depending on your unique situation and what the courts recommend.
Child Support Payments
In a two-parent household, income is shared between all members of the family. However, this arrangement changes when a couple separates, and has separate incomes and accounts, as well as different living costs.
Family lawyers can help you navigate the often-daunting world of child support payments. Typically, this is a multi-step process that can be made much easier with legal assistance.
The first step is to contact family lawyers for help who can learn your unique situation and provide professional advice. Both parties can then come to an agreement on their own about how much child support to pay.
However, if an agreement can’t be reached, the Department of Human Services may perform an assessment. If either parent is not satisfied with any outcome of the process, they may appeal to the Social Security Appeal Tribunal, with their preferred family lawyer representing them.
Once a final agreement is reached, which is often in court when disagreements see the need for an appeal, both parents will be informed of their requirements and how to remain compliant.
Answering Your Questions
When you have never gone through a divorce or separation involving children before, it’s only natural that you may not know how the process works. Once you contact a family lawyer, you can ask them any questions you may have and receive answers that you need to make informed decisions.
Remember, every decision you make with regard to parenting agreements in separation must be with the child’s best interests as the priority.
Some of the most commonly asked questions are how long will parenting agreements take to reach, what are the worst case scenarios and best case scenarios if it goes to court, and what is a likely outcome. While law teams can’t answer with a high degree of certainty, they can use their many years of experience and the information they have about your situation to provide you with information that applies to your unique situation.
What Else Can Family Lawyers Help With?
Family lawyers are adept at helping you manage your parenting agreement, but they can also do much more. When you first separate from your significant other, a family lawyer can provide you with an overview of the legal process so that you know what’s involved in separation and divorce.
They can also help you with preparing for divorce proceedings and arranging the fair division of property and assets. Access arrangements for children and child support payments are also a crucial part of their service, as is writing legally binding financial agreements and restructuring family assets, estates, and wills.
Essentially, any legal matter, or something that can become a legal matter within your family, can be taken care of with the help of a family lawyer. They can provide you with advice, support, and encouragement to help you make the best possible decisions for your family.
While some families quite easily come to parenting agreements without legal help, that’s not true for all families. It can give you much-needed peace of mind to know that a family lawyer is available to help if you need them.
As challenging as the end of a relationship can be with children involved, it’s not something you have to manage on your own. Family lawyers from State Law Group are ready and waiting to take the lead and offer the support and help you need to make the best possible decisions for your family.