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Have you recently separated from your partner?

Do you have children together?

Are you unsure about how to come up with a parenting arrangement?

 

This article details the types of parenting arrangements that can be made and gives information about common outcomes in regards to parenting arrangements.

 

Types of parenting arrangements

Our previous article ‘Divided Lives’ explains different kinds of parenting arrangements in detail. These include:

  • Parenting plan:

A written agreement as to parenting arrangements which is signed by both parties. Although this type of agreement can be implemented quicker than going through the Court, it is important to keep in mind that it is not legally binding.

  • Minute of Consent Orders:

A written agreement that is approved by the Court. Consent orders can be used when a couple is able to come to an agreement between themselves, but they want the Court’s approval so that it will become legally binding.

  • Parenting Orders

Parenting orders come about either through an application for Consent Orders, (as explained above) or when the Court makes decisions as to parenting arrangements. This will occur only in complex matters, which often involve violence or substance abuse. Only about 3% of parenting arrangements are in the form of Court Orders.

 

What factors are considered?

Whenever the Court makes parenting orders, they must consider the best interests of the child above all else. Other factors that are taken into account include:

  • the child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents;
  • the need to protect the child from harm or exposure to family violence and/or child abuse;
  • the child’s views;
  • the child’s relationship with each parent; and
  • the practicality of the decision.

In regards to the practicality of the decision, this becomes relevant if the court decides the child is to spend equal time with each parent, but it isn’t practical, (or in the child’s best interests) to have the child swap between homes every second night, for example.

If there is risk of harm to the child, the child’s best interests will be made paramount, at the expense of other considerations, such as the child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

 

Common outcomes

According to a 2019 study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the majority of parenting arrangements are such that the child spends the majority of their time with their mother and see their father regularly. This applies to court ordered and non-court ordered arrangements.

Of the very small portion of parenting arrangement matters that go to court (3%), only about 3% of those result in no contact time for one parent. This will only occur if there are significant risk factors involved in the child seeing that parent. In about 4% of cases that go to court, the court will order that one parent can only see the child if the contact time is supervised.

 

What next?

If you’re in the process of sorting out parenting arrangements and need some assistance to make sure you get the best outcome for you and your child, please do not hesitate to contact Lynn & Brown Lawyers on 08 9375 3411 for expert advice from one of our five Family Lawyers.

 

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800, https://kidshelpline.com.au/

Family Relationships Advice Line: 1800 050 321, https://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/talk-someone/advice-line

 

If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in more family law news.

 

About the authors:

This article has been co-authored by Chelsea McNeill and Jacqueline Brown at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Chelsea is in her fourth year of studying Law at Murdoch University. Jacqui is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in family law, mediation and estate planning.  Jacqui is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Notary Public.

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