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.
The above information is an extract from the AussieLegal Family Law Kit which includes detailed information and case studies on the Family Law Rules, Divorce, Child Residence & Child Access, Property Settlements, Child Support and Spousal Maintenance. The Family Law Kit also includes a Property Settlement Calculator which can help you estimate what your fair share of the matrimonial assets you are entitled to in the event of separation.
The Kit will be an invaluable guide you if you choose to act for yourself when making an application to the Family Court. Alternatively, if you choose to have a lawyer acting for you, the Family Law Kit will help you better understand what your lawyer is doing, help you ask the right questions and help you make informed decisions.
Click on the link above to read more about the Kit.