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Caring for Children After Divorce: Advice from Family Lawyers in Ballarat

Caring for Children After Divorce: Advice from Family Lawyers in Ballarat

Today, 15 per cent of Australian families are single parent households. If you are going through a divorce and have children younger than 18, child custody can become a contentious issue. Family lawyers in Ballarat offer divorce and separating clients an effective approach to help through the emotional process when children are involved.


Custody Options


Child custody generally refers to where your children will live after divorce or who has the legal right to make decisions about their upbringing. Under the Family Law Act 1975, the aim is to guarantee the child’s best interests. The primary considerations are the following:

  • The benefit of children having a meaningful relationship with both parents;
  • The need to protect children from physical and psychological harm. This includes children seeing family violence, being neglected, or being physically or psychologically hurt.


Equal Shared Parental Responsibility


Since 2006, the law changed to introduce the presumption that both parents should have equal shared parental responsibility for their children after separation. This encourages co-operative parenting by giving each parent an equal say to make important decisions in relation to their children, for example decisions about health care and education. When no parenting order or court order exists, parents are presumed to have equal shared parental responsibility.


After filing for divorce, the court will grant equal and shared parental responsibility unless it can be argued it should not be presumed. In this case evidence must be shown to the court that it is not in the best interests of the child if equal shared parental responsibility is given.


Parenting Orders


If an agreement cannot be reached, then court action may be appropriate. A parenting order states the responsibilities of parents and other caregivers and covers issues such as:

  • Where the children will live;
  • Who the children will spend time and communicate with;
  • Other issues like medical treatment and schooling.

Parents may resort to obtaining a parenting order when they cannot agree on a parenting plan, or when parents want to make their parenting plan into an official legal document.


Hiring a Lawyer


Sharing the care of children after divorce can be an exhausting matter. Hiring a professional to guide you through the legal process makes a big difference. Family lawyers in Ballarat deal with issues concerning parenting of children and address issues concerning:

  • Decision making about the children;
  • Appropriate access schedules;
  • Primary residential care of the children;
  • Mobility with a child to a different city, state or country;
  • Wishes of the children;
  • Shared parenting and split parenting.

Families going through a separation or divorce with children face many challenges. The emotional and financial needs associated with this difficult transition take a toll on both parties, especially the children. Divorce does not have to be contentious and destructive, especially when children are involved. Family lawyers in Ballarat will help you take control of the situation while protecting the interests of the children.

Supporting Unique Custody Situations

There are some specific considerations for child custody cases that apply to unique situations for Australian citizens. The Family Law Act (1975) provides detailed provisions for children in very specific situations. For example, the Act discusses specifically the needs of Aboriginal children in order to protect their cultural needs. An aboriginal child is defined by the Act as a child who is a descendent of the Aboriginal people of Australia. A petition can be made to retain custody of a child in an environment that meets the cultural needs of the child. For example, if one parent wishes to move a child to a new community where their cultural needs aren’t met, the other parent can address this dispute with the courts. Other home life experiences such as child abuse, violent behaviour and drug use can have an impact on deciding permanent custody of a child. While these experiences are not ideal, children in Australia are unfortunately exposed to dangerous situations that can affect which parent they will reside with permanently. Family lawyers serving residents of Ballarat can provide clear guidance for each unique situation. The aim is always to ensure children live in a safe environment and to provide access to both parents whenever possible.

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