Facts Everyone Should Know About Child Custody
Child custody, like all issues surrounding the breakdown of relationships is a highly sensitive issue. The goal of the Australian legal system is to prioritise the rights and wellbeing of children affected by parental separation.
Because the issue of child custody is such a stigmatised and popularised issue, there are several misconceptions about it. These assumptions about how the system works can result in less than ideal outcomes for both parents and their children.
In order to secure the most ideal outcome in child custody cases, parents should seek the services of the best family lawyers in Sydney. This expert counsel and representation will work to secure the best possible settlement.
The following details some of the most important facts about Australian child custody that everyone should be aware of.
The Meaning Of Custody
Custody means that a parent has legal custodial rights and responsibilities towards the child or children. It essentially means that the person with custody is the primary caretaker for the child or children and is liable for their continued well-being.
“Joint Custody” refers to when both parents are given custodial rights. Neither parent will have a superior stake of custody but does this not necessarily mean that the child will spend equal time with both of them.
Before Going To Court
Like most family law issues the legal system encourages the resolution of disputes outside of court via some kind of mediation. For child custody this usually takes the form of a Family Dispute Resolution Conference. This process is designed to take less time and cost less money than a court hearing.
If issues of domestic violence or child abuse are a factor then this type of mediation may not be appropriate.
Types Of Parenting Orders
Parenting orders are the legal instructions pertaining to the future care of the child or children. This can be outlined in a mutually agreed parenting plan or it can be mandated by the court.
Parenting orders deal with the core parenting arrangements that will influence the child or children’s future. These include:
- Which parent the child or children will primarily reside with.
- The allocation of time a child or children will have with each parent and other parties such as grandparents.
- The allocation of parental responsibility and any aspect of the care, welfare and development of the child or children.
- How the child or children will communicate with the parent they do not live with.
The court will penalise parents who fail to comply with parenting orders only when another person files an application alleging that they had.
For anyone seeking assistance with parenting orders they should get in touch with the best family lawyers Sydney like O’Sullivan Legal.
The Opinions Of The Child Or Children
Many people believe that the decisions of the child about parenting orders are defaulted to by the court. This is untrue as there are a number of considerations that influence how much weight a child’s opinion is given.
The age of the children is a primary factor here. If a child is a teenager, especially around the ages of 15, 16 and upwards, it is hard for a court to force them to spend time with a parent they don’t want to. If a child is still very young then their opinion will have less weight against other factors considered by the court.
This is because the younger a child is the easier it is for one or both parents to try and influence their decision. This attempt to manipulate the child is easily identified by the court and will look very bad for any parent caught doing it. A parent who is found to be trying to influence a child’s decision will be less likely to be granted custodial rights.
Are Fathers At A Disadvantage?
There is a common misconception that the court system is skewed against fathers and is more likely to grant custodial rights to a mother. This is untrue because the tendency for children to reside with mothers is due to other care factors.
The law prioritises the best interests of the child and it is often true that the child is accustomed to spending more time with their mother. This is because of the stability that constant motherly attention provides as opposed to a father who may work for long periods.
This fact becomes less true as children become older because they can cope with shared parenting arrangements much easier.
The above only gives a brief overview of some of the common issues around child custody. Understanding the true nature of the legal process and its objectives in protecting children is crucially important.
Parents who need consultation and representation in issues of child custody should rely on the best family lawyers in Sydney to help secure an ideal outcome.