When a couple has children, there are a number of legal factors that come into play if the relationship ends. These can be matters concerning child support, living arrangements, travel arrangements and time spent with grandparents.

The family court will always prioritise what is best for the children when making decisions. At Rafton Family Lawyers, we aim to minimise the stress involved during separation and the impacts this has on all members of the family, especially children.

It is important to allow children to develop close relationships with important family members when it is safe to do so, especially both parents. This helps children to cope with the separation and see that they are still part of a supportive family network.

What to do if both parties agree on parenting arrangements

If you and your former partner agree on parenting arrangements, they can be turned into a legal agreement without the need to go to court.

A parenting plan is not legally binding; it is just an outline for both parents to refer to and a formal way of deciding how things will work.

If the parents would like these details turned into a legally binding agreement, they can apply for them to be turned into, or included in consent orders.

Parenting orders and consent orders

Consent orders are a legally binding agreement and can include details about parenting, property and other assets.

The difference between consent orders and parenting orders is that consent orders are made based on an agreement between both parties, whereas parenting orders are decided and enforced by the court. Sometimes parenting orders are made from consent orders.

What if I want to change the details of a parenting order?

To change an existing court order, you will need to be able to prove that the circumstances have changed and that the order is no longer valid.

When both parents agree on the changes, they can be written as a draft and then turned into orders by the Family Court.

If you or your former partner do not agree on the proposed changes, you can use mediation to try and come to an agreement. Alternatively, you will need to go through the process of applying to make the orders again.

Can I relocate or travel with my children?

If you plan to move away or travel, you will need to consider if this will hinder the children’s relationship with other significant people in their lives. You may need permission from the court if relocating or travelling will prevent them from seeing the other parent.

If you believe that your reason for moving is important, you should try approaching the other party to reach an agreement.

If you and your former partner can agree, you should take steps to have this made into a legal contract before you move or leave for your travels. Otherwise, your former partner may be able to take legal action against you and force you to abide by the original agreement.

Where can I find more information on my legal rights as a parent?

Parenting after separation can become complicated in lots of ways. For more information on your legal rights, you can visit the Family Court website.

For personalised advice on your situation, please call us on  1300 4 FAMILY and speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.

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These fact sheets are designed to provide an overview of the relevant issues and systems so that you have a better understanding of the process.

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