Family Law and Children's Rights
The Family Law Act sets out a number of important principles in relation to children:
- The children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents;
- That children have a right to spend time, and communicate, on a regular basis with both their parents and other people who are significant to them;
- That parents jointly share duties and responsibilities regarding their children;
- That parents should agree about the future parenting of their children;
- That children have a right to enjoy their culture; and
- That where the court is asked to make decisions about children, it must regard the best interests of the child as being the paramount consideration.
It is going to cost you less in time, money and emotional distress, and be easier on your children, if you both agree on the arrangements you wish to make for your children after you separate.
There are a number of ways of formalising agreements relating to children, although you are not obliged to do so. One way is to ask the Family Court or the Federal Magistrate’s Court to make parenting orders by consent. Another option is to enter into a written parenting plan which records the agreed arrangements.
If you cannot agree on the arrangements for your children, you can apply to the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court to determine which parent is responsible for what. These orders are called Parenting Orders.
They are of four types:
- Orders about parental responsibility and decision-making
- Orders about with whom the child with live
- Orders about the child spending time with, and communicating with, the parent with whom he or she does not live
- Child Maintenance Orders – these are infrequent because most children are now covered by the Child Support Scheme.
A parent, a child or anyone else concerned with the welfare of the child can apply to the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court for a parenting order. For example, grandparents or stepparents are entitled to apply to the Court.
Resources regarding legal issues applicable to children
The Children's Court of NSW deals with criminal cases, applications for apprehended violence orders, applications for compulsory schooling orders and cases involving the care and protection of children.
How can counselling help with children's rights and Family Law?
Christine Bennett and Emily Dylan offer help through counselling and psychotherapy. Christine is also a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and assists parties to reach agreement for parenting arrangements.