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CHILD RESIDENCE

CHILD RESIDENCE & CONTACT

Divorce can be a very distressing process not just for the parties involved but also for close family members. It is important to comfort your children through the process and make sure they understand what is going on and that it is not their fault. It is most important to keep the interests of the children in mind and ensure that they suffer as little as possible both during the divorce and in whatever arrangements are made for them subsequently.

Once you have separated from your spouse or partner, it is important to make suitable living arrangements for the children and ensure that both parents have contact with them.

The Family Law Act sets out the following principles: unless it would be contrary to a child's best interests:

  • children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived together;
  • children have a right of contact on a regular basis with both their parents and with other people significant to their care, welfare and development;
  • parents share duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children; and
  • parents should agree about the future parenting of their children. Parents are encouraged to agree on matters concerning their children rather than seeking an order of the court.

If you and your partner can agree about the parenting of the children, who they should live with and the contact they should have with the other parent, then you may wish formalise that agreement through the Family Court. There is no obligation to do so.

If parents cannot agree about the parenting of their children, then an application can be made to the Family Court for its assistance in resolving disputes. Through the court process, the Family Court will encourage parents to reach their own agreement about the children but ultimately, if parents are unable to agree, the Family Court can make parenting orders about a child. A child residence order is a parenting order.

Whenever the court makes any orders about children, the most important consideration is what is in the best interests of the child.

FURTHER INFORMATION

This Information Outline is provided courtesy of Dwyer Durack Barristers & Solicitors who are experienced in this area of law. They are located at Dwyer Durack House, 40 St. Georges Terrace, Perth, WA 6000 or call them on (08) 9325-9277 if you would like more information on this legal topic, or you wish to obtain formal advice regarding your situation.

Established in 1914, Dwyer Durack is one of Western Australia's most respected and progressive law firms. It is the leading legal firm in Western Australia for the provision of a comprehensive service in the private client areas of personal injuries, family law, employment law, criminal law, consumer law and wills and estates. The firm comprises 13 Partners and a total compliment of 120 personnel. Dwyer Durack is a member of the Australia-wide PeopleLaw group.

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