Parenting Agreements

Often the most difficult issue to resolve when separating is the parenting arrangements for children.

Let us help you reach agreement on parenting arrangements sooner

Usually, the biggest concern for parents when they’re separating is the impact it will have on their children. Both want the best for their kids – but often have different ideas of what is best for them.

At Lakey Family Law our focus is on helping you and your ex reach agreement on parenting matters as quickly as possible. To do this, we generally encourage our clients to attempt to reach agreement through mediation and negotiation, rather than pursuing a decision in the courts. However, in cases where mediation is not a viable option or where there is a history of violence, neglect, abuse or substance abuse, we take a different approach.

What is a Parenting Agreement and why do we need one?

A Parenting Agreement is a document that sets out how you will share the parenting of your children. We generally encourage our clients to put a Parenting Agreement in place as soon after separating as possible.

The key thing to note is that Parenting Agreements don’t have to be set in stone forever – both parents should be prepared for them to change and evolve over time, especially when there are young children involved. For this reason we usually include a review date within the agreement so that it can be reviewed and adjusted if needed.

Typically a Parenting agreement will set out:

  • The day-to-day responsibilities of each parent.
  • Who the child or children will live with.
  • Visitation schedules, or the specifics of a shared custody arrangement, including drop off points.
  • How the child or children will communicate with each parent when they’re not with them.
  • The arrangements for weekends, school holidays and special days like birthdays and Christmas.
  • The process required to change or alter plans.
  • Maintenance and financial support arrangements.

How the Family Law Act applies to parenting arrangements

The Family Law Act prioritises the best interests of the child in all parenting matters. Until recently, it included a presumption that equal shared parental responsibility was in the best interest of the child. However, this presumption has been removed as it was often mistakenly perceived to mean that it was in the best interest of the child to spend equal time with each parent.

The courts now work off the presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to have contact with both parents and for both parents to share parental responsibility. This means parents are expected to make a genuine effort to consult with one another and make joint decisions relating to significant and long-term issues like education, healthcare and religion.

When determining what is in the best interests of the child, the courts will consider a variety of factors, including the:

  • Safety of the child and those who care for it, including any history of family violence;
  • Views and wishes of the child;
  • Needs of the child, including developmental, psychological, emotional and cultural;
  • Capacity of the parents to meet the child’s psychological, emotional and cultural needs;
  • Relationships with parents, grandparents, siblings and significant others;
  • Cultural identity and heritage of the child and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s right to experience and enjoy their culture, and’
  • Any other factors relevant to the child’s circumstances.

Putting your children’s interest first when resolving parenting disputes

Over the years we have dealt with a range of different and complex cases, including parental alienation, neglect, child abuse, and non-parent applications.  We have also successfully litigated cases where parents wish to relocate with their children intrastate, interstate and overseas, again the best interests of the children are paramount.

If you are thinking about separating, or recently separated, it’s important to get advice from an experienced family lawyer before you make decisions that will impact on your children’s right to spend time with both parents.

Want to know more about parenting agreements and what’s involved?


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