Ending your marriage means that you will no longer be in a relationship with your spouse but you will both continue to be parents to your children.
The breakdown on a family is tough for all those involved but can be most difficult for children. They may be surprised by your decision to separate or even hope that perhaps you may get back together. It will take time for everyone to adjust but reassuring your children that they are loved, important and cared for by both parents will make all the difference.
If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse regarding arrangement for your children the Court will be required to make those decisions for you.
Over recent years there have been various amendment for the legislation. There are certain requirements set out in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) that provide guidance to parties and the Court as to what arrangements need to be in place for minor children. The legislation adopts the best interests of the child as being paramount. This means that each child has a right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents together with the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm, abuse or neglect.
The court will take into consideration:
- the age and views of the child,
- the ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs
- whether it is reasonably practicable
- whether there are any concerns for the child's wellbeing or safety
Additionally the amendments have adopted the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility. Based on this presumption, where it is suitable and practical the court will consider whether the child spending equal time with both parents or substantial and significant time is appropriate. Equal parental responsibility also means that both parents will make decisions with regard to major issues in the childs life for example which school the child will attend, childs health issues etc.
These factors will be carefully considered before making final orders regarding arrangements for your children. The hope is that parents are able to reach these arrangements themselves, out of court in a less adversarial environment, keeping the interests of their children and the forefront of their minds.