Family Law Separations: Dealing with Parenting Matters
Any separation from a spouse is a stressful experience but this is usually heightened when there are children in the relationship.
At VAJ Byrne & Co Lawyers we act with honesty, empathy and sincerity to assist you in keeping your matter as amicable as possible and helping you to navigate these difficult times. This includes having tough conversations to ensure the children remain at the forefront of decision making, costs are kept to a minimum and time is not wasted. We provide real advice to ensure our client’s have informed and realistic expectations.
Here are some initial things to consider;
– Evidence: In the unfortunate circumstances that your matter needs to go to Court, you will be asked what you can prove. It is best to have as many of your discussions and arrangements for children as possible in writing (such as SMS, facebook messenger etc). When a conversation is had verbally, you may wish to follow up with a written message to confirm as evidence, for example you might send a message later in the day – ‘thank you for agreeing to change the pick up time tomorrow to 4pm, we will see you then’. You should make sure all interactions are child focused and civil, you must be able to put your child’s needs above any lingering animosity between yourself and the other parent.
– Keep a diary: briefly record the who, what, when and why of all parenting matters. Keep track of which nights the children spend in households, when telephone calls occur or are denied, if children were withheld from your care or if you were excluded from anything of importance (such as birthdays, school events and major holidays). A timeline of what has occurred is a valuable form of evidence.
– Child Support is not ordinarily a solicitor matter, you can go direct to the Child Support Agency for assessment of child support and collection if it assists. Solicitors can however draft Binding Child Support Agreement if the parties wish to come to their own agreement. One important thing to note is that child support care is assessed based on the number of nights in each household. Regardless of whether the other parent is actively preventing you from spending time with your child, child support is still a financial responsibility of a parent and therefore is something you should address from the time of separation.
– Start the process for family dispute resolution conferencing (mediation) through Relationships Australia. It could help you reach an agreement or at least narrow the issues in dispute. It is also a requirement prior to commencing court proceedings. It can take some months to obtain a date for a family dispute resolution conference so we recommend starting the intake process early.
– Consider courses: you may wish to consider any relevant parenting courses or personal counselling. If you aware of any allegation that may be made by the other parent from the past or present, it is important to address these concerns. One course recommended to all parents who are struggling to communicate and co-parent is the parenting orders program (sometimes called a POP course) which can assist parents to recognise their responsibilities to co-parent and communicate civilly for the benefit of their children’s relationship with both parents. Relationships Australia can assist in locating a POP course near you.
– Should parenting agreements be documented? We recommend parenting agreements by way of parenting plan or Court Orders as this provides certainty and can avoid future disputes when circumstances change.
Book an appointment with one of our experienced and compassionate practitioners to get advice about your specific circumstances today
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Gladstone & Bundaberg Offices:
Phone: (07) 4972 1144
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