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How to Get Custody of Your Child: Parenting Matters

One of the many difficult aspects of separation or divorce is deciding on custody arrangements. At PCL Lawyers, our family lawyers in Sydney understand how important it is to make the right choice about custody and the wellbeing of your children.

The complexity of child custody matters depends on whether parents can come to a mutual agreement quickly. If parents agree, it’s easier to document and formalise the arrangements and move forward. On the other hand, if they don’t agree, it can be more complicated an may involve court proceedings.

Many family law matters settle before there is a court appearance, but the proceedings can be beneficial to bring the parties together to reach an agreement.

Our goal is to help you avoid lengthy court proceedings by providing you with concise legal advice on your parenting responsibilities. We explain the legal framework that governs the custody of children under the Family Law Act, including everything related to the best interests of the child and equal shared parental responsibility.

Our family lawyers can also discuss options such as mediation to resolve custody arrangements.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA or family court) recognises and appreciates that many people other than parents can have important relationships with the child or children involved in custody issues. This includes grandparents and other members of the family, all of which should be respected and preserved as much as possible. We take all of this into account when advising you on your position and the options available.

How to get custody of your child family lawyers sydney

The Best Interests of the Child

The principle of the best interests of the child is the cornerstone of custody arrangements in the family court. Parents are also encouraged to keep this primary consideration in mind when making decisions rather than focusing on themselves or their perceptions of what is of benefit to the child. It’s designed to protect the child/ren from physical or psychological harm, safeguard their wellbeing, and ensure that they maintain a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.

In addition, there’s a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility. This means that both parents have equal responsibility for taking care of the child and making decisions for them. As a result, when parents discuss and arrange custody, they should consider equal responsibility to be default. If a custody arrangement goes to court, this presumption will serve as the starting point.

Most of the time, the court will make binding and enforceable orders accordingly.

If Both Parents Agree on Custody Arrangements

It’s important to put any verbal agreements that both parents make regarding the custody of their child in writing even if there’s no conflict involved. This is because the amicable nature of your relationship can always change for the worse in the future, and verbal agreements alone aren’t legally binding or enforceable. Documenting an agreement in writing ensures a safety net in the event the relationship changes. This can be done through a parenting plan or consent orders.

Parenting Plans

A Parenting Plan is a written agreement made by parents that outlines the structure of their child custody arrangement. This method allows for flexibility and is particularly beneficial in cases where parents require such flexibility. It’s recommended to get advice from a lawyer who can help parents negotiate and create a plan outside of court, incorporating factors such as equal time sharing and child support. PCL Lawyers has a great team of family lawyers in Sydney who can do just that.

Parenting plans don’t need to adhere to strict guidelines and can be as broad or as specific as the parents agree upon. They don’t have to account for the long term and can be revised when needed. The plan typically covers details such as which parent the child will live with, visitation arrangements, holiday and birthday schedules, financial contributions, and decision-making processes. It can also include specific details such as communication with extended family and medical professionals.

One advantage of having a Parenting Plan is that court attendance isn’t necessary. However, it’s important to note that these plans aren’t legally binding or enforceable, though courts will consider them when resolving disputes between parents.

Consent Orders

Consent orders can be used as an alternative method to record custody arrangements if both parents have reached an agreement in a friendly manner. Unlike parenting plans, consent orders approved by the Court become legally binding and enforceable under the Family Law Act.

The Family Court will review the orders and decide in the best interests of the child. If approved, the Court will formalise the agreement in the consent orders. Opting for consent orders provides a higher level of certainty and security, as breaching them can have legal consequences.

If Both Parents Don’t Agree on Custody Arrangements

If both parents can’t come to an agreement on custody arrangements, the Court can decide for you. A court will impose a court order and both the parties must abide by this as it is legally binding.

Before filing an Application for parenting orders, you’ll need to complete some pre-action procedures which includes reading a brochure and attending a Family Dispute Resolution Conference. You will need a family lawyer to help draft the application and ensure that it will give you the best chance of success.

This gives the other parent a deadline to reply or accept the claim. If there is no response the Court will make an order in your favour.

The parenting orders will dictate where the child will live and with whom, how the child will spend time with both parents, who has parental responsibility, who can communicate with the child, who will financially support the child, and how other major decisions will be made. Our child custody lawyers can assist you through the entire process in Sydney or New South Wales.

Sole Custody

Sole parental responsibility allows one parent to make decisions about their child without having to make the final decision with the approval of the other parent. Courts usually prefer to grant equal shared parental responsibility, so you must provide evidence to show why this isn’t in the child’s best interest.

For example, a situation in which one parent is abusive and poses a danger to the child such as domestic violence may be sufficient grounds for the Court to rule in favour of sole custody. In these cases, you’ll need to submit evidence such as police reports and witness statements to support the claim.

Get trusted family law advice

At PCL Lawyers our family lawyers have provided clients with carefully considered legal advice on parenting arrangements and child custody matters. As a law firm we have extensive experience in helping clients in many different types of parenting issues from urgent injunctions to amicable consent orders.

It is best to speak to a child custody expert to get clarity on your personal circumstances and how we can help you reach a settlement.

If you’re need guidance speak with a family lawyer in Sydney on 1300 907 335 or submitting an online enquiry.

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