In the event of a separation, the welfare of your children should be the primary concern. Unfortunately, many separations become too focused on the distribution of assets instead.
If custody disputes cannot be resolved by out of court mediation, the matter will be dealt with through the court system. This can be a time consuming and costly exercise.
A resultant parenting order will determine parenting arrangements including parental responsibility and decision making, with whom the child will live, and the amount of time the child can spend with each parent.
In all parenting cases, the court will need to determine if equal shared parental responsibility is appropriate. The court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child.
There are many variables to consider when determining shared care arrangements, in particular if there has been any history of family violence or abuse.
If the court does not make an order for equal time, it must then consider whether or not it is in the child’s best interest to spend substantial and significant time with both parents. The primary consideration here is the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents and the need to protect the child from physical and psychological harm.
Just as children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with both their parents, they equally have a right to communicate with their grandparents.
If you are a grandparent who has been affected by a family breakdown, you can apply to the court to seek parenting orders in relation to your grandchildren. Applications to the court are usually made where the parents deny a meaningful relationship between their children and their grandparents.
Applications can also be made to obtain parental responsibility for the children allowing them to live with you. This usually occurs when both parents are unwilling, unable or lack the capacity to care for the children. The court will always take the best interests of the children into account when determining custodial rights.