Introduction to Child Custody: A Guide for Parents in Australia

Posted by Family Lawyers Mackay on December 21st, 2020

The custody of minor children is perhaps the most discussed element of any divorce process as it decides how the parents will raise their child. A child custody agreement helps determine a child’s emotional health and well-being for the rest of their life.

The Family Lawyers Mackay takes this very seriously, so it prioritizes the emotional health of the child in all child custody cases. We know the deep emotional needs that each family has. Using your current family situation, our highly skilled child custody Lawyers can offer creative and beneficial solutions.

When we work with clients with child custody agreements, we fight for the child’s benefit and the family as a whole. Our goal is to create a good deal for everyone involved, the children, and both parents. Our firm recognizes that the ideal situation includes both parents. Whenever possible, we create equitable solutions that allow both parents to work cooperatively for their children’s good.

What is child custody laws in Australia?

Courts often must decide where children will live when their parents separate or divorce. Child custody QLD laws guide judges in making these crucial decisions. In determining who gets custody, family judges take into consideration many factors that we will see below.  

The following is an article dedicated to the essential details about child custody laws in Australia. Child custody Australia refers to the legal obligation and the right of a parent or guardian to care for, make decisions, supervise, educate, and monitor a responsible child.

Child custody QLD problems can arise in any of the following situations:

  • when a married couple with a minor child of the marriage seeks a divorce;
  • if two unmarried parents of a little cannot agree on custody out of court;
  • a court or state agency finds that a parent or legal guardian is unfit or dangerous to the child’s welfare; and
  • one or both parents are absent or deceased.
  • Custody is not limited to the child’s parents but can also be awarded to other family members or a foster home.

There are three main categories of child custody in Australia, legal, shared, and physical, which are then also assigned as exclusive or joint. Legal custody deals more with the rights and responsibilities of a parent than where the child lives. Who can make decisions about important issues in the child’s life, such as education, health, and medical decisions, and the general well-being of the child is assigned. Joint legal custody requires parents to communicate effectively with each other.

Physical custody addresses where the child will reside and for how long. Also, who will have the daily responsibilities of the child and decide what is best for the child? When joint physical custody is awarded, the child will spend time living with both parents or legal guardians. This does not mean that time should be divided equally. It says that the child is cared for according to the guidelines outlined in the custody agreement.

Types of child custody Australia 

There are many types of custody agreements, including:

  • Alternate – Parents take turns having physical and legal custody
  • Joint – Both parents have simultaneous physical and legal custody
  • Individual – Only one parent has physical and legal custody
  • Divided – Each parent has full custody of individual children in the marriage.

There are mainly three types of child custody QLD:

Legal custody: Refers to the legal capacity of parents to make crucial decisions on behalf of their children on issues such as education, religion, extracurricular activities, and health care. Unless a parent is abusive or otherwise untrained, the courts grant this right to both parents. This is called “joint legal custody.”

Physical custody: Refers to the children’s place of residence and the time they spend with each parent, and this is often the common cause of custody disputes. When physical custody is awarded to only one parent, it means that the child resides with that parent and spends most of the time with that parent. Joint physical custody is another avenue in which both parents are assigned the same amount of time to spend with their children (although not necessarily the same).

Shared custody: The current trend in many courts and legislative bodies recognizes the importance that each parent plays in the child’s life. Many states accept that the best interest of the child is served by awarding joint custody. In these situations, parents can be awarded joint custody unless one proves the other to be unfit, showing child abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.

One of the primary considerations when determining how to divide parenting time with joint custody is the parents’ work hours. This often helps identify the parenting schedule. For example, a parent who works during the week may have parenting time on the weekend. A part-time employee may have parenting time during non-work hours. Many states allow parents to enter into a custody agreement on their own. If the parents agree to a plan, the court can then honor that agreement.

If the parents cannot agree on the children’s custody, the court may hear arguments from both parents and their attorneys and then determine the amount of time each parent should spend with the child.

How Does Child Custody Work? 

Child Custody is divided into two areas: legal and physical. Physical custody is simple as it comes down to who the child lives with. Physical custody also means that that parent will be obligated to provide for the physical, emotional, and social needs of the child directly (e.g., food, housing, community involvement, school transportation). Physical custody can be divided, but since this can cause a lot of stress for the child, this usually only happens when both parents live close together.

Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the upbringing of a child. This includes how a child is raised, the religion in which they are presented, and decisions related to medical care. Most courts prefer that the parents have joint legal custody, even when a child spends most of his time with one parent. However, that is not always beneficial for the child.

The central doctrine of the courts when creating a child custody agreement will depend on what is in your “best interests.” If the court decides that one parent should have individual legal and physical custody, it will award it only to that parent. Fortunately, custody is not a zero-sum game. State laws support the idea that a child’s health benefits from the presence of both parents.

How to get custody of your child?

Birth parents have the right to request visitation of their children or custody of their children, and it is valid regardless of whether the child’s parents were married at the time of their child’s birth. If the court must determine child custody in Australia, in most cases, the “best interests of the child” standard will apply. This model allows both parents and the child to be assessed to determine if there are factors that make the child prefer to spend more time with one parent than another.

Many family courts order that a third person appointed by the court assess the situation regarding child custody. As part of the assessment, this person interviews each parent with and without the children present. If more people reside in the household, they can also be interviewed; for example, those who have close and continuous contact with the child, such as other family members, teachers, counselors, and doctors.

This evaluator may also request additional information and documents. All of this work is done so that the expert can make an independent decision regarding the best interests of the child. The judge can place great weight on the opinion of the child custody evaluator, which is why many people who go through this process choose to retain the services of specialized child custody Lawyers. Attorneys provide advice on what to discuss during the evaluation process and what information to provide to the evaluator.

If the child’s parents are not married, most states grant physical custody to the mother unless the father asks for joint or full custody. A single father does not usually win control of a minor to a good mother, but he can make sure to obtain another form of control or visitation rights. In divorce cases, the court will evaluate the child’s age, sex, current living situation, and care arrangements. You can also consider the age, health, lifestyle, and stability of each parent.

The court may consider the parents’ working hours, provide the child with basic needs, and the relationship between the child and each parent. Some states allow courts to consider the preferences expressed by children who are a certain age.

Typically, the judge might give more weight to one factor than others, depending on the circumstances or the age of the child.

Some Common Arrangements Ordered By Courts Include:

  • Separate children by week: children stay at the first parent’s house on Sunday-Wednesday and the second parent’s home between Thursday and Saturday.
  • Alternate Months: Parents stay at the primary parent’s home in January and the second parent’s house in February.
  • Six alternate months: parents spend January through June at the first parent’s home and July through December at the second parent’s house.
  • Weekends and Holidays: Children spend the school year with the primary parent and weekends, summer, and vacations with the other parent.

Explanation of the Family Law Mackey Joint Custody Process

Joint custody arrangements work best for parents who can cooperate and agree that addresses the family’s needs. It often benefits children who have more time with each parent while ensuring that they remain active throughout their children’s lives. If one parent does not cooperate with joint custody, the other parent may try to enforce the order by having the court find the non-compliant parent in contempt of court. He or she can also try to modify the order by requesting sole custody.

Even when the parents have joint custody, one parent may have to pay child support to the other parent. The formulas for the maintenance of children tend to consider many factors when determining the amount of child support that should be given. The amount of parenting time can be one of those factors.

Family Lawyers Mackay Child Custody Lawyers Can Help Determine Custody

There are two types of ways custody decisions are made: by agreement or through contested hearings.

Custody Agreements

Parents can often agree on which parent should have primary custody of the child. They may decide that the primary caregiver continues this role after the divorce or the relationship’s breakdown. Alternatively, they can agree to joint custody. Even if they are not on the same page, they can accept through negotiations or mediation.

Family Lawyers Mackay Child Custody Lawyers Discuss Mediation

Mediation is a non – adversarial process in which the parties to a legal dispute try to reach an agreement on their case. A neutral third party facilitates communication, identifies the parties’ interests, and makes suggestions for possible solutions. The goal of family law mediation is to get parents to put their differences aside and focus on their children. Additionally, divorce mediation also helps avoid costly court fees.

In some jurisdictions, mediation is mandatory by the court before a contested hearing can take place.

Paternity Agreement

A parenting agreement describes how parents will make decisions regarding their children. This agreement can take a court order or be an alternative to a standard court order.

Parenting agreements may contain provisions regarding:

  • General custody and living arrangements
  • Specific dates and times when each parent will have the child
  • Vacation
  • Financial considerations, including child support, additional child-related expenses, and travel expenses
  • Provisions regarding the relocation of parents and travel with children
  • Provisions regarding decisions regarding the child’s education, medical needs, extracurricular activities, and religion
  • Any other provisions agreed upon by the parents

Parenting agreements may be at the expense of the parents’ cooperation or as a document produced during mediation.

Family Lawyers Mackay Child Custody Attorneys Can Help With Contested Custody Issues

Can’t agree on who should have custody of the children? You may have to contest your custody issues. This process begins when a parent files a complaint or petition asking what they want.

The other party must provide an adequate response within the designated time frame. Additionally, both parties may retain the services of a Houston family law attorney to represent them in this matter.

Family Lawyers Mackay Child Custody Lawyers Discuss Prehearing Proceedings

Some processes related to discovery include:

  • Interrogations: the parties may request specific information from the other side to assist in their case and preparation
  • Production requests: the parties may request the other party to provide concrete evidence, such as photographs and voice messages. Also, text messages, email correspondence, tax returns, and pay stubs.
  • Requests for admission: the parties can reduce the disputed issues by making the other party admit certain things.

Also, the court can order mediation, meetings with other people, such as child custody evaluators, and parents’ class attendance.

Child Custody Evaluations

Family Lawyers Mackay child custody lawyers evaluations can help the court gather more information to make an educated decision. The child custody evaluation can begin with an initial interview in which the evaluator interviews each parent. Additionally, they will interview each parent to learn about each parent’s role in the child’s life.

The child custody evaluator may also request that each parent provide a release for specific information. Additionally, this may include parent and child medical records, educational records, and psychological records.

Family Lawyers Mackay Child Custody Lawyers Discuss the Evaluation Process

The child custody Australia evaluator can discuss the case with other parties involved. For example, teachers, doctors, siblings, and other relatives. Typically, the child custody evaluator conducts home visits in which he assesses the home and the relationship between each parent and the child in the family environment.

After the evaluation is completed, the evaluator can prepare a report and send it to the court. He or she can also give an opinion at the hearing. Although the family court judge is not generally required to adopt the child custody evaluator’s suggestion, the judge will often consider the recommendations.

Guardian Ad Litem

In some cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem. An ad litem is an attorney or other person who acts in the best interest of the child. Besides, this individual represents the child and can participate in the process.

Family Lawyers Mackay Child Custody Lawyers Discuss Child’s Best Interests

Courts use the “best interests of the child” standard when determining custody issues. Also, the court may consider some factors based on state statute or common law. These factors often include:

  • The child’s age
  • The sex of the child
  • Child’s health
  • The health and age of each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence in the home, especially that directed at the child
  • The child’s preference if he is above a certain age or has the maturity to express it
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • If the child has siblings in either household
  • The ability of parents to meet the child’s basic needs
  • The quality of education the child is currently receiving
  • The impact that is changing the status quo would have on the child
  • A history of substance abuse in the home
  • Whether the parent would foster a relationship with the other parent and the child

Consult a lawyer specializing in child custody and visitation

A child custody Lawyer can play several roles when the client is going through a family legal dispute. Legal counsel can gather information to support the client’s claims and respond to the request for legal documents and petitions to preserve the client’s rights. If you need qualified legal assistance to obtain custody of your child or to agree on a visitation regime, obtain a free analysis of your claim with an attorney specialized in the matter.

Talk to a qualified child custody Lawyers today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative, but legal matters can be complicated and stressful. A qualified child custody lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. “Family Law Mackey” is the best child custody lawyer in Australia to resolve your family issue. Take the first step now, and contact a local child custody attorney to discuss your unique legal situation.

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Family Lawyers Mackay
Joined: December 1st, 2018
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