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

Parenting Agreements and Custody Arrangements

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.

Reach agreement on parenting and custody arrangements sooner

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 and custody arrangements

The Family Law Act has a presumption of shared parental responsibility, but this doesn’t automatically mean that the courts will order parents to spend equal time with their children (even though this is happening increasingly). The Act dictates that the best interests of the child are paramount and override the desire or the convenience of the parents.

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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