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Child Custody Lawyers Sunshine Coast

"To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today."
- Barbara Johnson

Timesharing and Parenting Arrangement Are Emotionally and Mentally Draining

Child custody matters

Dealing with separated families is difficult enough, so working civilly with your former partner in your child’s best interests is critical to any child custody case. Yet they are essential to the emotional health of each child involved in a separation. Ultimately, we want to ensure your child’s life is fulfilling and free from physical or psychological harm.

Our best child custody family lawyers are parents too. We know first-hand what parenting entails, from the emotional, spiritual, and academic development of raising children to the logistical difficulties of commuting to and from school and extra-curricular and social activities.

Our child support custody family lawyers understand that the arrangements made must consider the “big picture”. This may include the transition from one home into two homes, the working hours of each parent and work-related travel schedules. We will develop an agreement that is fair to both parties and, most importantly, the children. We understand every aspect of child custody family law proceedings.

Child Custody Responsibility

The basics you need to understand

At Shanahan Family Law, our child custody lawyers understand timesharing and shared equal parental responsibility for children. Timesharing relates to the schedule that both parents will enjoy with their children.

Equal shared parental responsibility involves parents making significant decisions that directly affect children, such as education, medical and health care, religious upbringing, and extra-curricular activities.

All child custody family law cases are different, and our family lawyers emphasise parental involvement as appropriate on a case-by-case basis, considering your circumstances. The child custody and equal time sharing schedule must be clearly outlined, and that can be implemented without hurting the children.

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We routinely mediate and litigate disputes concerning parenting matters. Where possible, we endeavour to avoid court proceedings and will guide clients towards resolving disputes amicably with consent orders.

Child custody by agreement

Follow these important parenting plan steps

The ideal outcome in child custody family law matters is for parents to be able to come to a parenting agreement about what child custody arrangements should be put in place. These parenting arrangements can be made formally or informally. Formal agreements are legally binding, while anything agreed to informally is not. 

A parenting plan is a written agreement that is not legally enforceable but provides a valuable framework that allows all parties to understand their mutual parental responsibilities. There is no standard format for a parenting plan, and they can cover as many aspects of parenting as is deemed necessary. Typically, the more detailed a parenting plan is, the more successful it will be in establishing an effective child custody agreement.

Some of the primary considerations in a parenting plan are (but are not limited to):

Consent orders Accepted by the Court

Are your parental plans legal?

Parenting agreements may be legally binding by applying to the family court for consent orders. This provides a remedy in child custody matters when one parent refuses to adhere to the agreement. As consent orders are recognised by the court, breaching one is a crime and may attract a fine or even prison time.

Even though parents may agree to a proposed order, the court must also accept it. If the court finds that the submitted order unduly prioritises one parent over the other or is not in the child’s interests, the order will be rejected. To ensure that a consent order has the best chance of success, seeking legal advice from a family lawyer before pursuing an order is highly recommended. 

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An application for consent orders should be filed within 12 months of a divorce or within two years from when a de facto relationship breaks down.

If an agreement cannot be reached on a parenting plan, the parenting matter can be taken to the family law court in Maroochydore. A parenting order will be assessed similarly to consent orders. The court will determine what is in the best interest of the child based on what it considers to be a fair and just outcome for both parties.

Child custody without agreement

Parenting order

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s impossible to resolve child custody issues amicably, and court-mandated parenting orders are required.

Seeking parenting orders to settle child custody disputes is a drastic action that should only be used once all other options have been exhausted. A parenting dispute is generally preferable to be resolved privately, without recourse to the family court. As such, before the court hears a case, you will usually be required to attend mediation with the other party. 

Family Dispute resolution can take different forms but broadly relates to the process of coming to a consensus on a child custody matter that avoids the need to go to court. This can be done informally with the assistance of family or community members.

Joint Child Custody

50/50 custody split?

While joint custody is preferred, this does not necessarily mean custody will be split 50/50. The court does believe it is in the child’s best interests to maintain the child’s relationship with both parents. Therefore, child custody arrangements should generally allow the child to spend time with both parents to maintain a meaningful relationship with each of them. 

There is no requirement that the time shared between parents be equal. One parent will often become the primary caregiver, even though that parent may not have sole parental responsibility for all of the child’s well being and major life decisions. 

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Family violence

Seek legal advice from a family lawyer

Child custody cases involving family violence are taken extremely seriously by law firms and the family court. A child’s safety is our paramount consideration and is likely grounds for sole custody.

Seek guidance from family law services if you are concerned about domestic violence and need to put parenting orders in place immediately.

Factors considered in a child custody determination

Family Law Act

In any family law matter, neither parent has special rights to their children, regardless of age or gender. The Family Court’s main goal and focus are to protect children’s rights. The Family Law Act identifies what factors the Court should consider achieving this.

Each parent must demonstrate his or her ability to:
Continue a healthy and caring parent-child relationship concerning the timesharing schedule as set forth by the parents of the child and the Court.
Communicate any changes to the timesharing schedule as they arise.
Consider and make decisions based solely on the child’s best interests as opposed to the interests of the child’s parents.
Implement and maintain a consistent routine for the child, including any daily activities and schedules.
Participate and encourage the child in their school and extracurricular activities.
Maintain a healthy and abuse-free environment.
Recognise the needs of school-age children and pay attention to travel times and schedules, adhering to the timesharing plan.
Maintain and continue the child’s living arrangements and routines as consistent as possible.
Communicate with the co-parent as often as necessary regarding the child’s needs and schedules.
Make an effort to remain informed of the child’s school activities and performance, social stability, health care, daily activities, and so on.
Maintain the mental and physical health of each parent for the child.
Meet all the child’s needs during crucial developmental stages.
Consider any other relevant factors by the Court.

Related Child Custody Articles

Contact our Shanahan Family Law if you would like to learn more about child custody. Book an initial consultation with an experienced child custody family lawyer. We are based in Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast or with one of our family law child custody lawyers Gold Coast. We are here to support you every step of the way in your new life.

Joint applications for divorce

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