Co-parenting of children following the breakdown of a relationship is one of the most difficult challenges that parents can face. Having access to clear advice that takes into account the unique circumstances of your family can help make the challenges more manageable and achieve better outcomes for you and your children.
Seeking legal advice early is key because the Court focus heavily on the status-quo and so it is important to make the right decisions early on. Every family is different and our solicitors are experienced in all areas of children’s matters and can advise you in the particular circumstances of your family.
At Jordan & Fowler Family Lawyers, we understand that the breakdown of a relationship can bring about a plethora of stresses and complications, but the wellbeing and welfare of the children involved in your separation should always be your number one priority.
Our solicitors are all knowledgeable about child support matters, particularly complex cases where payment of school fees, mortgages and other family costs impact the amount of child support payable.
We are committed to supporting you during your hardships, and with a wealth of experience, we will ensure that you are met with an arrangement that is best suited to your children and their interests.
Joint custody or shared responsibility means that both parents have legal rights and responsibilities towards the child. It doesn’t mean that the child will spend half of their time with one parent and half with the other, but that each parent has an equal say in decisions relating to the child in areas such as health and education. Even if the child lives with the other parent you may still have joint custody.
But doesn’t the law now say that children have to spend equal time with each parent?
No, it doesn’t. The law ensures that the best interests of the children are served first. When considering what is in the children’s best interests, the court has to consider facilitating a meaningful relationship between the children and both of their parents and also to protect the child from harm.
If the court is to provide equal shared responsibility then it will also consider whether equal time is in the best interests of the children and whether it’s practical. Rather than equal time, for example, the court may order substantial and significant time be spent with the other parent, which might translate to 4 nights per fortnight rather than 7.
Firstly, get legal advice. Your lawyer will take you through all of the areas which need to be considered and document what you think is a fair approach to arrangements for your children. If your partner is agreeable, your lawyer can help you formalise the document without proceeding to costly court action.
If your differences are unable to be settled, then you will need to embark on the path to having parenting orders issued by the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court.
Recent changes to the Family Law Act 1975 mean that you will need to attend family dispute resolution before applying for parenting orders. The accredited family dispute resolution practitioner will issue a certificate which must be filed with the court application and simply states that your differences were unable to be resolved.
If your case does end up in court, a legally binding decision will be made through a hearing where the judge will decide what is in the child’s best interests.
There is an online child support calculator provided by the Child Support Agency which can help you estimate both your child support and family assistance payments . This is an estimation only though, as the calculation is quite complex and tailored to your situation.
You might also benefit from reading the Parent’s Guide to Child Support.
Yes, you may be able to. You have the right to object to the decision within 28 days and then an internal review of the decision will take place within 60 days of the objection being filed.
You can also continue to appeal if the original decision was upheld by applying for a review through the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
The Child Support Agency has the power to investigate and enforce payment which includes the power to collect the payment from employers, the tax office and social security. It also has the power to prohibit people from leaving the country while there are outstanding payments.
As lawyers experienced in this process, we can advise you in regard to the complexities of your specific situation as well as guide you through what can be a stressful and confusing process. We can help take the heat out of a difficult emotional situation and negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best possible result for your children. And if it comes to court, we are deeply familiar with the court system and can use our experience to your advantage.
Child support issues can be sensitive and difficult to work through, but we can help you find your way through the process and the legislation.