Child Custody Cairns
Child Custody and Family Law Support
Navigating child custody and parenting agreements after a divorce or de facto separation can be very challenging. This is true even without legal proceedings. It is best to get legal advice early. This will help you quickly plan your children’s living arrangements and child support agreements.
It is essential to know your legal rights and options before making any decisions about child custody. Whether it’s between yourselves, through mediation, or the court system. Our experienced child custody lawyers can help you navigate this process, keeping your best interests and children in mind. If mediation cannot reach an agreement, we will help you finalise the matter through the Cairns Family Law Courts.
Some parents might be concerned about losing custody of their children, but this is rarely the case. The important thing is not to assume the worst and to seek expert legal advice. Our family lawyers in Cairns can help you reach a positive outcome with as little stress as possible.
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Schedule a meeting with one of our family lawyers. This meeting will help you make legal decisions that protect your children. It will also help minimise the impact of changes on your family. There is no obligation – if you decide not to proceed with us, you pay nothing. We understand this is a difficult time, so we handle each situation with the kindness and understanding our clients deserve.
Contact our office for a confidential, obligation-free consultation with child custody lawyers in Cairns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a presumption that both parents should have equal time with the children?
There is no presumption that both parents should have equal time with their children. Every family is different so there are no set standards for childcare once a family splits. The care arrangements for each child will depend on several factors, including the age of the child. Older children may have a say in their care arrangements.
There is however a presumption that both parents should make decisions for their children together. This is referred to as ‘equal shared parental responsibility’. There are some circumstances in which this presumption will not apply such as in domestic violence and child abuse situations.
If a court orders equal shared parental responsibility, it must consider whether an order for the child to spend equal time with both parents is appropriate.
Is mediation a waste of time?
No. It is a requirement under the Family Law Act, 1975 that parents engage in mediation with a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner. This has to take place prior to commencing court proceedings. Exceptions include child risk or urgent matters that cannot wait for mediation.
It is recommended that legal advice is obtained prior to mediation. This will help you better understand the process and the law surrounding the child custody issues to be discussed. You’ll also receive an explanation about parenting plans and consent orders, so you get the most out of your mediation.
Mediation can help resolve divorce or de-facto separation matters by narrowing the issues in dispute and providing insight into the best way forward.
Will my child’s view be considered?
Whilst children do not get to make decisions about their care arrangements, the family law court can consider their views. How much weight a court will place on a child’s views will depend on their age, maturity, and whether the court considers those views to have been influenced in any way.
A child should not be asked directly by a parent what care arrangements they want. Instead, the child’s wishes are established through a non-intrusive interview process with an independent person qualified to have these discussions with children. This may include an interview to prepare a family report, or a mediator conducting a child-inclusive mediation.
More information on these processes can be obtained in an obligation-free consultation with one of our family lawyers.
Do we need to formalise the parenting arrangements?
There are two ways in which someone can formalise a parenting arrangement. The first is by entering into a parenting plan. The second is by applying to the family law court for consent orders.
There is no requirement to formalise a parenting agreement. There are both advantages and disadvantages to parenting plans and consent orders.
For example, the courts cannot enforce a parenting plan as it is not legally binding. Parenting plans can, however, be easily changed or updated and used as evidence in court proceedings. Consent orders, in contrast, are legally binding and enforceable. However, consent orders are only possible to change with the other parent’s agreement.
How you formalise custody of your child depends on your agreement with the other parent and your family situation. We recommend obtaining advice from a family lawyer before formalising your agreement.
What do I do if the current parenting arrangements aren’t working?
If you have a court order, you can apply to vary it. If you do not have a court order, you may seek to obtain one if mediation fails to reach a satisfactory outcome. Either way, our family custody lawyers will guide you through your options and help you reach a positive outcome.
Will I need to go to Court?
Most parenting matters can be resolved outside of court, through negotiation or mediation between the parents.
Unfortunately, parents sometimes disagree on arrangements for their children. This can lead to one parent starting court proceedings. If there is a child custody dispute, court proceedings are commenced.
This does not mean that the family law court will ultimately determine the arrangements for your children. There will be further opportunities for parents to reach an agreement and to continue negotiations throughout the court proceedings.
A lawyer is often appointed to represent the children in court proceedings. This lawyer is called the “independent children’s lawyer.” They are essential in helping parents reach a beneficial agreement for their children.
Which court handles child custody disputes?
The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia deal with matters concerning children. The same child custody laws apply regardless of whether you are getting a divorce or ending a de facto relationship.
What happens if I want to move town or state?
If you are looking to move town or state, consent to relocate with children is required from the other parent. Mediation is the next step if there is no agreement between you and the other parent. If mediation is not successful in reaching an agreement, you will need to file court proceedings.
A Court will only handle a relocation issue as a final decision. Unless it’s urgent, you might have to wait for up to a year for a ruling.