18 October 2016

Why You Should Formalise The Parenting Arrangements For Your Children

Formalising the parenting arrangements for children after separation, benefits the children, by providing a predictable and stable routine and reducing the chances of parental conflict, and the parents, by reducing stress and the likelihood of the other parent acting contrary to the agreed arrangement.  There is no one better placed to make decisions about what parenting arrangements are in the “best interests” of children, than their parents.  However, an experienced family law practitioner can provide very useful, and sometimes critical advice, to assist parents to agree on, and formalise, all necessary parenting issues for their children.

It is strongly recommended that, in the initial stages of a separation, parents obtain legal advice from experienced family law practitioners about:

  1. the law surrounding parenting issues and arrangements under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) as relevant to the particular family;
  2. the various parenting options, arrangements and issues they should consider;
  3. the services available (some of which are free), to assist parents to discuss and agree on the parenting arrangements (most of which will last until the children are 18 years of age); and
  4. how they can make the agreed parenting arrangements “legal”.

At Miller Harris Lawyers, our experienced family law practitioners are available to do an initial consultation with you to give you legal advice on general, and specific parenting issues, to assist you to amicably resolve the arrangements for your children.

Issues we commonly advise separated parents about include:

  1. the various parenting arrangements parents might consider such as week-about, a shared week arrangement, and alternate weekend regimes;
  2. how to “make legal” the agreed parenting arrangement to reduce the risk of the other parent absconding with, or holding over the children, or making threats to do so;
  3. whether to enter into a parenting order – which is legally binding, or parenting plan – which is not, but might be useful for very young children or when parents are not yet sure what arrangement is best for their family;
  4. how to ensure the parenting arrangements still maintain a degree of flexibility where needed. This can be critical where one parent works on a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) arrangement, does shift-work, or lives in another city;
  5. other parenting issues which might need to be agreed upon such as domestic and international travel with the children, passport arrangements, choice of schools and medical providers;
  6. concerns relating to who will care for the children when they spend time with the other parent;
  7. what to do when a child is refusing to spend time with the other parent;
  8. how parents can keep in touch with their children when they are living with the other parent; and
  9. how to communicate with the other parent regarding a parenting issue about which they do not agree.

The feedback we commonly get from our clients is that formalising the parenting arrangements:

  1. reduces stress for the children by providing a stable routine;
  2. reduces anxiety and conflict for the parents by removing the need to communicate on a weekly basis with the other parent about what time the children will spend with each of them;
  3. enables parents to plan their time with their children, including holidays and special occasions such as birthday and Christmas celebrations;
  4. reduces their level of fear that the other parent may abscond with their child, refuse to return their child or otherwise act contrary to the formal parenting arrangements, as to do so could, for example, amount to a contravention of a consent order, punishable by fine or imprisonment; and
  5. reduces their level of fear that the other parent may make a court application seeking for the children to live with them or to move away, knowing that to do so when consent orders have already issued, is more difficult.

If you would like any more information about how we, at Miller Harris Lawyers, can assist you to amicably resolve the parenting arrangements for your children, please feel free to contact our family law department on 4036 9700.


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