Childrens Matters

HOW DO I GET CUSTODY OF OR TIME WITH MY CHILDREN?

When parents separate one of the first questions they usually ask is “How do I get custody of or time with my children?” There is no easy answer to this question, but there are some basic things you need to know. 

Parents are able to work out custody and access arrangements for their children without going to court. Some parents are able to make an agreement between themselves, some get the help of a mediator or family counsellor, and some need the help of a lawyer and may go to court.

Parents do not have an automatic right to spend time with their children. Instead, arrangements are made on the basis of what’s in the best interests of the child

Parents who may be prevented from spend time with their children are usually those who have abused them or engaged in severe family violence. It is rare for parents not to be given some time with their children.

The law presumes that when parents separate BOTH of them will have ‘parental responsibility’ for their children. This means that separated parents must make major decisions about their children (eg, decisions about health, education, religion) in consultation with each other. Parental responsibility has nothing to do with how much time a parent spends with their children. It does not matter if a parent was never married to, or even lived with, the child’s other parent.

While the public still refers to ‘custody’ and ‘access’ or ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ when talking about their children, the Family Law Act now uses the terms ‘parenting orders’ (who the child will live with and who they will spend time with) and ‘parental responsibility’ (who gets to make major decisions about the child).

The team at Calley Rajah Family Lawyers are able to guide you through the process and advise you about your rights and entitlements which are specific to your circumstances.