Child Custody Lawyer
Mornington Peninsula

With many years of experience in Family Law, we hold the belief that it is a child’s right to spend quality time with each parent. Whether that be 50/50 or something different, we work with families to ensure the child/s wellbeing is first and foremost.

There are two ways to determine child custody arrangements. Either through a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders.

Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a written agreement that sets out the parenting arrangements for children.

This only needs to be written and signed freely (without threat, duress or coercion) between the parties to come into effect. An advantage of parenting plans is that they provide parents with more flexibility and the ability to easily change arrangements with minimal expense. This can be particularly useful when the children are young, and the needs of the children will change over a short period of time.

Parenting plans are not enforceable by the court if they are breached, but the Court will take into consideration the terms of a parenting plan if court proceedings are commenced after the parties enter into a parenting plan.

Parenting Issues

Consent Orders

Consent Orders are legally enforceable Court Orders that are made with the best interests of the child in mind.

In some cases, Consent Orders are necessary as they provide structure and certainty for parents and children.

In other cases, Consent Orders can get in the way of common-sense discussions and variations to the normal living arrangements of children, which is why in some cases, parenting plans may be preferable over consent orders.

Ideally, parents – the ones who have to live with these arrangements – should be making these decisions, not the Court.

This area of family law can be a complex matter, and the Court also considers the rights of others (apart from parents) to be involved in the child’s life, which includes grandparents, other relatives and foster parents.

If parents cannot reach agreement on parenting arrangements between themselves, the next step is Family Dispute Resolution, which is mediation to try and assist the parents to reach an agreement.

For more information on your child custody issue please get in touch.

The legal stuff

Under Australian family law, children have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both their parents, and to be protected from harm. A court is required to give greater weight to the consideration of the need to protect children from harm.

The Family Law Act 1975 is gender-neutral, and does not make assumptions about parenting roles.

When a family court is making a decision about a child, the court will make an order that is in the best interests of the child.

Parental responsibility: means all of the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that parents have in relation to their children. 

Equal shared parental responsibility is not the same as equal time.

A court may decide it is in the best interests of the child to remove parental responsibility from one or both parents. A court can also decide to assign parental responsibility to a legal guardian.

There is no rule that children must spend equal or “50:50” time with each parent.

There are all sorts of different ways that separated families can make sure that their children have ongoing relationships with both of their parents. If you and your former partner agree on the future arrangements for children, you do not have to go to court. You can make a parenting agreement or obtain ‘consent orders’ for parenting orders approved by a court.

The Parenting Orders – what you need to know Handbook provides advice to parents about how to develop and obtain parenting orders.

Financial Responsibility

Both parents also have a duty to support the child financially after separation, regardless of who the child lives with. Parents can manage this between themselves or apply for a child support assessment.

The Department of Human Services administers the child support program, assisting parents to provide support for their children.

Information about the child support program is available at the Department of Human Services’ website.

A bit more of the nitty gritty…

  /- Parenting Matters

If you have split with your partner, working together to ascertain what’s in your child/s best interest can be a difficult process. We work collaboratively with you to work out what their rights are, what your rights are, and how best to achieve those rights and your goals. 

Our expert team is experienced in working through equal share care or 50/50 arrangements, ensuring to protect children from abusive or controlling parents, and assists in advice regarding international or interstate relocation as well as abuse or sexual abuse allegations. 

  /- Consent Orders

Whilst some situations may not require Court and both parents can come to an agreement without a trial regarding either parenting or financial matters, we can assist with documenting your agreement by a consent order. Although you may feel confident with your informal agreement, in some circumstances your ex-partner may change their mind, and therefore having an order provides certainty. 

There are however certain issues that a consent order do not cover. At Lawyers by the Bay, our knowledgeable team can assist you in how best to approach a consent order and what the best next step is for you. 

  /- Child Support

When you separate from a partner and have a child/ren together, you may be required to pay child support regardless of how much access you have to the child. 

Our team can assist the best way to come to an agreement, whether through the Child Support Agency or a private agreement. We work with our clients to best assess the situation and ensure correct agreements are in place. 

  /- Property Settlements

There is a lot to take into consideration when going through a divorce or splitting from a partner and it is often a stressful time. Either yourself or your ex-partner may owe money or have outstanding debts. It is therefore important that issues are handled by a property settlement. 

Here at Lawyers by the Bay, we assist clients in understanding and determining any debts you have with your bank, mortgage debts, credit card debts, or any finance you have on a car to then work out the best approach in settling and dividing all assets. 

  /- De Facto & Same Sex Partners Property

At Lawyers by the Bay, we are experienced in handling many scenarios connected to de facto and same sex partnerships. 

There are a lot of factors and various situations that can occur, and it is therefore important to seek a lawyer’s assistance to seek the correct information. 

In most cases a de facto property or maintenance application can be made if: 

  • The relationship existed for at least two years, or
  • There is a child of the partners

However, there are many factors and complications to take into consideration and it is therefore best to organise a consultation with Lawyers by the Bay today to discuss your situation. 

  /- Spousal Maintenance

Financial (spousal) maintenance for partners is when a partner has to maintain their ex-partner financially after a relationship ends. It differs to child maintenance and generally people only have to pay maintenance if they can afford it and their ex-partner can’t support themselves or meet their financial requirements after the breakdown of the marriage or de facto relationship. 

There are many negotiations to take into consideration for this claim. At Lawyers by the Bay, we can assist by;

  • Providing advice on your eligibility based on the income and expenses for both parties
  • Providing advice on the other party’s entitlement to spousal maintenance 
  • Make a spousal maintenance claim 
  • Resisting a spousal maintenance claim
  • Family violence

    At Lawyers by the Bay, we have experience in handling all family law matters on behalf of a victim or person accused of family violence. Family violence is a serious matter, and we have a determined and experienced team that are able to work with a client whether it be to apply or defend; 

    • Personal safety orders
    • Restraining orders
    • Intervention orders
    • Apprehended violence orders
    • Family violence orders
    • Domestic violence orders

    Family violence can have a significant impact on both adults and children. We strive to make the process straight forward and simple and as an experienced and compassionate firm, we can help you achieve the best outcome in the short and long term. 

      /- International Issues

    Our team can assist with relocation and international issues regarding custody of children and what laws are in place, covering your rights as well as your children/s rights when relocation is in discussion. 

    We understand that relocation cases are complex, highly emotional and have a significant impact on all parties involved. We confidently provide the best information, so that an amicable agreement can be met. 

      /- Financial Agreements

    In the event that a relationship ends, a financial agreement can be beneficial for both parties to provide some certainty and what each person is entitled to. Binding financial agreements can be used within married, de facto or same sex relationships. 

    We can confidently advise you on your binding financial agreement and ensure that it satisfies all legal requirements. 

      /- Intervention Orders

    In the event of family violence, an intervention order can be put in place by the Courts and make orders to protect people and property. 

    You can either be served with an intervention order or you may need an intervention order. We can assist in talking to the police in the case that you may require an intervention order to ensure safety and well-being for either yourself or family members. 

    Haven’t found what you’re looking for?
    Get in touch today and talk with our lawyers about your situation. 

    Have a question about family law? Feel free to get in touch today! We offer a free consultation to begin and there are no upfront fees! 

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