After a divorce or separation, it is important to get legal advice as early as possible to discuss and set your children’s living and support arrangements. Child custody agreements can be made any time after you separate from your partner but the sooner you begin the process, the better.

Often, parents will reach an agreement between themselves about their kids but even if this is the case, it is still important to formalise the arrangements through the family courts. This is typically in the form of a ‘parenting order’, which specifically outlines who the child will live with, the time they will spend with each parent and the allocation of parental responsibility. Unlike parenting plans, parenting orders are legally binding and enforceable in Court.

How to apply for parenting orders

Once both parents agree on the terms of the parenting orders, the following documents will need to be signed and submitted to the Family Court of Australia:

  • Application for Consent Orders
  • Minutes of the Consent Order that sets out the terms of the agreement
  • Annexure to Proposed Consent Parenting Orders
  • The filing fee for the court

We understand that each family’s situation is different and that some child custody issues are more complex than others. We also know the importance of having an experienced child custody lawyer who can help guide you through the courts, dispute resolution process, or in more amicable separations, documenting the parental orders to protect the interests of the child.

Our Cairns family lawyers will guide you through the options for child support and custody and help you to reach a positive outcome for you and your children.

Results for our clients

  • A successful international child relocation matter where the Family Court sanctioned the child to live with our client outside of Australia.
  • Resolved most of our clients’ property and parenting matters by negotiation without resorting to Court proceedings.
  • Assisted indigenous foster parents in the Children’s Court with proceedings dealing with their foster child.
  • Resolved a child custody matter, where we acted for the grandparents to remove the children from parents with drug and mental health issues which compromised their safety.

Child Support Arrangements and Assessments

Most children are covered by the Australian Child Support Scheme, with arrangements assessed and monitored by the Child Support Agency rather than the courts. However, sometimes parents feel that the assessment issued by the agency does not result in a fair outcome. Unfortunately, this can happen and in cases where it is felt that a different decision would produce a more favourable result for the children, we can help guide you through the dispute process.

Changing child support arrangements is complicated in nature. If they are not managed by an expert lawyer, resentment between the parents can build, resulting in a long and drawn-out situation which could have been avoided. Our family lawyers are highly experienced and able to support parents through this process, providing expert guidance and advice based on decades of experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if we can’t reach an agreement?

If parents cannot reach an agreement, whether it be where the children live, how much time they spend with each parent or other issues relating to education, religious activities or medical treatments, there are alternative options which we can help with.

Before you start legal proceedings, we recommend you get in touch with a family lawyer. Take advantage of our obligation-free consultation to explore your options.

What types of child custody are there?

The Family Law Act sets out the child custody arrangements as to where the child (or children) will live, who has visitation or access and the allocation of parental responsibility.

A child custody arrangement could be any one of the following:

  • Full custody, where a single parent has sole custody of the child
  • Shared custody, where two parents share the responsibilities which can include splitting the living arrangements.
  • Temporary custody, where an interim order is in place until a long-term child custody solution is found.

If I’m not the biological parent of a child, can I still get custody?

Yes, according to the Family Law Act 1975, anyone who has been significantly involved in the care, welfare or development of a child can apply for a parenting order. Even if you are not the biological parent.

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