Frequently Asked Questions about children and custody issues in Family Law cases.
- I’ve heard of shared parental responsibility. Does it mean I have the children half the time?
- My partner is threatening to take the children interstate or overseas.
- I am a grandparent; can I apply to see my grandchildren?
- There are no orders in place. Can I prevent the other parent from seeing the children?
- I wish to relocate with the children, do I need to let the other parent know?
I have heard of shared parental responsibility. That means I can have the children half the time doesn’t it?
No. “shared parental responsibility” is not a term used to refer to where the children will live. It means that both the mother and father have a right to have a say in the major decisions for their children such as, where they go to school and what religion they practice. There are exemptions to this and you should speak to your lawyer as to whether they apply to you.
There are various factors which will affect where children will live and what time they should spend with each parent. You are not guaranteed shared care and you should speak to us to find out what may be a reasonable and acceptable arrangement.
My partner keeps threatening that they are going to take the children interstate or overseas without my consent. If they do that, can I do something about it?
Yes you can. It is unlikely that the police will get involved if there are no Orders in place.
If you have Orders, you can enforce them. If you do not have an Order, provided always that the children have been taken interstate, or that Australia has jurisdiction in the Country where the children are taken, you are able to commence proceedings in the Federal Magistrate or Family Court for the urgent recovery of the children.
You should not delay, as any delay could take your children further away or make it more difficult for any authorities to locate them. It may also make it more difficult to get a Court to bring the children back if the children have already settled and established a comfortable routine in the new location.
Yes. Parents have an obligation under the Family Law Act to ensure that they make decisions and act in the best interests of the child. This includes ensuring that the child is provided with the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship not only with each parent, but with those parties who have an interest in the wellbeing of the child, including but not limited to grandparents. Talk to us today to discuss your rights in this regard.
No. A parent’s time with a child is not for the parent’s benefit but is instead, for the child’s benefit. Preventing a child from seeing one of their parents without reason can be viewed as a form of abuse and will not be looked at favourably by a Court.
There are of course numerous exceptions to this including but not limited to situations where a child may be at risk in one parent’s care due to medical or health concerns, drug or alcohol use or in cases of family violence. Even in these circumstances, you should not simply deny the other parent from spending time with the children but should instead, seek independent legal advice to negotiate suitable options such as the use of a supervised care centre. Alternatively, you should take proactive steps to inform the Court of the change in parenting arrangements and risks to the child so that the Court may make an appropriate determination of what is to occur.
The law provides you with the freedom to live where you choose, however, if you are the primary parent, you have an obligation to ensure that where possible, the children are able to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.
If you are relocating only a short distance away from where you currently live, you will need to notify the other party of the new address where the children will be residing, unless of course, you have fear for your safety or that of the children. Relocating a short distance away rarely poses problems as the children will still be able to maintain a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
If you are relocating a large distance away, interstate or internationally, you will also need to let the other parent know. This is because moving such a distance away may make it difficult for the children to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent. You may also need to enrol the children in a new school which is a decision that should be made jointly with the other parent.
You should speak to an experienced Family Lawyer before you finalise any plans to relocate in such circumstances, as you may face a Court Application from the other parent which may result in an Order requiring the children to move back. To avoid confusion and unnecessary costs, contact us today to discuss your matter further.