Parenting matters

Understanding what will happen to children following separation can be a worrying time for parents. Getting support and guidance from a team of legal experts will help you understand what the coming months or years may look like.

The experienced and caring team at Kelly Legal with work with you to understand your situation and ensure the best interests of your family are considered. Contact the team today on 4911 0500 to schedule a time with our Mackay-based team of family law solicitors.

Parental rights and responsibility

There are no set rules for how separated families determine parenting arrangements, however under Australian Family Law children have a right to “enjoy a meaningful relationship with both parents and be protected from harm”.

Separated families are not required to go to court to formalise ongoing parenting arrangements and with the help of the Kelly Legal Family Law Team, you can create a signed and agreed ‘Parenting Plan’. It is important to note that Parenting Plans are not legally enforceable but may be considered by a court if necessary, in the future.

If both of the separated parties agree to terms of the parenting arrangements then that agreement may be formalised by making an application to the Family Court to have it made as an Order of the Court, by the consent of the parties, as a ‘Consent Order’.

A Consent Order is a legally binding and enforceable document.

Some other key points to note when considering parent arrangements include:

  • While a child is under 18 years of age, both parents continue shared parental responsibility
  • ‘Equal Shared Parental Responsibility’ means both parents share parental responsibilities for major long-term issues ie, schools, health, religion etc
  • Equal shared parental responsibility is not the same as equal time
  • There is no requirement for children to spend equal or 50:50 time with each parent
  • Consider the needs of each child to determine an arrangement that best suits the individual and their ongoing relationship with each parent
  • A court will give greater consideration to the need to protect children from harm

Richard Callaghan and his Mackay-based team of family law solicitors are experienced in handling all manner of parenting arrangements and situations.

Contact them today on 4911 0500 today to discuss how they can support you and your children in achieving the best outcome for all.

Mediation in parenting matters

Mediation in a children’s matter is required to be attempted prior to proceeding to Court.

In the mediation of parenting matters a qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) should be considered if you have not been able to agree on parenting arrangements and must be attempted in you need to proceed to court.

A FDRP is qualified to issue Section 60I certificates to certify to the court that an attempt at mediation has been made. A Section 60I certificate is required to commence court proceedings related to children’s issues.

Mediators practice privately or can be found in various mediation services such as Relationships Australia, the Family Relationships Online website or Centacare. You can also phone the Family Relationship Advice line on 1800 050 321.

If either party refuses to attend mediation a certificate will also be issued to confirm that mediation could not proceed.

A certificate is necessary prior to commencing proceedings in court unless the matter is urgent in which case the court will require an affidavit setting out why a certificate is not provided.

Call Kelly Legal today on 4911 0500 to make an appointment.

Parenting plans

Children of separated parents need love and support during what is undoubtedly a very difficult time. It is also important to quickly agree on some certainty about the future for the whole family.

Separating parents are encouraged to formalise parenting arrangements themselves, in the form of a parenting plan, avoiding the need to go to court.

A parenting plan is a written agreement, signed and dated by both parents and outlines key parenting arrangements. A parenting plan is not legally enforceable, but it is vital to seek independent legal advice before signing a parenting plan.

For a parenting plan to be recognised it must be made free from threat, duress or coercion.

Your parenting plan should take into account the individual needs of each child and may take into account the following:

  • Parental responsibility and decision-making for major issues (e.g. school, health, religious observations)
  • Who the child will live with and how much time is spent with each parent and other individuals (e.g. grandparents)
  • How the child will communicate with each parent
  • Arrangement for special dates, times or events (e.g. Christmas, Easter, school holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day)
  • Day-to-day requirements for the child (including sport, extra-curricular activities, health-related requirements)

You may also find it helpful to include processes to resolve conflicts or disputes that may arise or if variations are required to your parenting plan.

The family law team at Kelly Legal will guide and support you in creating a parenting plan with yours and your children’s best interests at heart. Contact them today on 4911 0500 today to discuss how to get started.

Consent orders

A consent order is a written agreement that has been approved by the court and is legally binding. Consent orders may be used in property settlement, spousal maintenance and/or children’s matters.

Where separating couples can finalise an agreement for a consent order, they will benefit from having a legally binding document without the expense and time involved with court proceedings.

Parties may choose to put a court-approved consent order in place, rather than an agreed parenting plan, if there is a preference to be bound by a legal document and to provide some finality and certainty for the future.

At Kelly Legal, the team of family law experts will assist you at every step and provide the legal advice and support you need when considering options for consent orders. Call 4911 0500 today to make an appointment and start of the path to a clearer future.

Child Support

Parents in Australia have an obligation to provide emotional, physical and financial support to their children and when a relationship ends this does not change.

The amount of financial child support, “who-pays-who” and when can be complicated so let the experienced family law team at Kelly Legal guide you through your options.

You may choose to enter into a private arrangement or utilise The Department of Human Services who are responsible for implementing child support payments in Australia. In either case, independent legal advice is vital to ensure your best interests have been considered.

The formula applied by the Child Support Agency for calculating child support payments takes into account a range of factors including:

  • Incomes of both parents
  • The amount of time a child will spend with each parent
  • Number and ages of children
  • The costs of raising children based on their age

Richard Callaghan and his team of family law solicitors can help you understand and negotiate a child support agreement with your former partner. Contact Kelly Legal today on 4911 0500 for an appointment.

Relocation or recovery of children

Family separation is difficult and for some leads to the decision to abduct or relocate with a child.

Prompt, accurate and independent legal advice is vitally important if you are wishing to relocate or conversely if your former spouse or partner is wishing to relocate or has relocated with the child or children without your consent. Whether the relocation is permanent or temporary you should seek immediate legal advice.

Where overseas travel is required for children, both parents must sign the passport application or give consent if the child already has a passport. Seek legal advice if you are concerned your child will travel overseas without your consent.

Kelly Legal will act with genuine care, compassion and professionalism to support you and your loved ones at an extremely challenging time. Call 4911 0500 now if you have concerns regarding the relocation or recovery of your children.

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