The Family Law Act refers to parents’ duties and responsibilities and the best interests of the child. Significantly you should note the following:

  • Children have a right to know and be cared for by both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development.
  • Grandparents are recognised by the court as persons with whom the child should normally have contact.
  • The court thinks about what the mother and father want as well, but is most concerned about the children themselves and tries to make sure that the best interests of the children are protected.
  • The views of the children can be taken into account depending on the maturity and level of understanding of the children and the reasons for the children’s views.
  • In certain circumstances, a Family Law Court can order the appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer to represent the interests of children and help the court determine what is best for them.
  • Children are not allowed inside the court room.

What happens to children after separation?

Children react in different ways to separation or divorce and it often depends on the child’s age, temperament and the level of cooperation or conflict between the parents.
For children up to 5 years old, family breakdown can be difficult to understand. Older children can also experience a time of confusion and uncertainty even though they are more able to understand what is happening.

The way parents or other family members react and adjust to the separation makes a big difference to how children feel. Continued fighting can hurt children more than the separation itself.

Children need the continuing care and support of both parents. They may worry less if you can agree about what is going to happen and explain why to them. At Eales & Mackenzie we can provide you with calm & confident legal advice which will help you explain what is happening to your children and will help you make the right decisions for your children.

What you need to consider

When making arrangements for children, you will need to consider:

  • whether it is reasonably practical and in the best interests of the children to spend equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent (substantial and significant time can include time during weekends, school holidays and other days)
  • how their time will be spent with other significant persons in their lives, such as grandparents and other relatives
  • who will look after them after school
  • where will they spend holidays
  • any other things such as choice of school, health care, sport, or religious matters, and
  • the children’s cultural background and how they will continue to be involved in that culture.

Every family is different, so the arrangements that work for your family may be different from other families. Try to make arrangements that will work the best for your children. Contact Eales & Mackenzie to discuss the best options for your children.