Helping solve your parenting and custody issues

Our lawyers have experience dealt with all aspects of child related matters, including:

  • Medical procedures
  • Allegations of risk and abuse
  • Relocation
  • Parental responsibility and living arrangements
  • Location and recovery orders
  • Child abduction
  • Adoption
  • Surrogacy
  • Gender dysphoria
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Child Custody Lawyers Perth

Parenting and custody arrangements

It is necessary for arrangements to be made for the ongoing parenting of children after the breakdown of the relationship between their parents. Often with the assistance of appropriate advice parents are able to reach agreement in relation to these issues, usually involving the children living with one parent (referred to as “residence”) and spending certain time with the other parent (referred to as “contact”). Agreement can also be sought regarding specific issues, such as education or medical matters.

Where parents are unable to agree on the arrangements for their children, proceedings in the Family Court can become necessary. At O’Sullivan Davies, we are able to advise in relation to all matters of this nature and have acted in some of the most difficult and complex litigation before the Court regarding children in recent times.

In addition to parenting arrangements, consideration needs to be given to the costs associated with the children. A person with whom a child lives is entitled to claim child support from the children’s parents. Ordinarily the amount of child support is determined administratively (without need for Court proceedings) having regard primarily to income levels. Where there are unusual circumstances, for example particular medical costs, Court proceedings can be commenced to vary the amount of child support that would otherwise be payable.

To find out more, get in touch with our experienced lawyers today.

FAQ

What is parental responsibility? 

Parental responsibility means all the duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which by law, parents have in relation to children. For instance, the ability for parents to make decisions about their child’s schooling, medical and health matters, and religion. 

Unless the Family Court makes an order providing for one parent to have parental responsibility, or parents to have equal shared parental responsibility, each parent has parental responsibility regardless of who the child lives with. 

This means that either parent can make the decisions referred to above. 

What is shared parental responsibility? 

Where there are Court orders for shared parental responsibility, parents must make decisions about major long term issues jointly.

This means they must consult the other parent in relation to the decision to be made and make a genuine effort to come to a joint decision. 

What is a parenting order? 

Parenting orders are obligations imposed by the Family Court. They can deal with parental responsibility, who the child will live with, how much time the child spends with the other parent (or another person e.g. grandparents), and other specific issues relating to the care and welfare of the child. 

People must comply with parenting orders.  A breach of a parenting order can carry penalties. 

I am in a de facto relationship – can I still get parenting orders? 

Yes, all children are treated the same way regardless of if their parents were married or not. 

I am not a parent – can I still get parenting orders? 

Anyone who is concerned with the care, welfare, and development of a child can apply for a parenting order. Commonly this includes grandparents. 

We recommend you speak with our office to determine if applying as a non-parent is appropriate in your circumstances. 

Who should the child live with?

When considering who the child should live with (formerly known as ‘custody’) and how much time a child should spend with each person (formerly known as ‘access’), a child’s best interests are the most important factor, although what is in their best interests differs from child to child depending on a multitude of factors.

At O’Sullivan Davies we can assist you to consider options for parenting arrangements and to approach the issue sensitively and practically with the other parent to ensure that a cordial and cooperative relationship can still be maintained after separation, and minimise any negative impact on your child.

Will the Court always make an order for 50:50 time with each parent? 

No.

The Court will look at the best interests of your child.

If the Court makes an order for equal shared parental responsibility it must consider ordering equal time or substantial and significant time. 
However, there is no automatic assumption that this will mean a 50:50 arrangement for all children. 

Can I stop my partner/spouse from taking the children?

If there are no orders in place you will need to obtain orders for the return of the children. This can be done urgently if there are circumstances of risk e.g. risk to the children or risk if they were to be removed from a locality, the State of Western Australia, or Australia.

If a parent wants to move away with the children on a permanent basis, they will need to attend the appropriate dispute resolution process. If no agreement is reached, then an application should be made to the Family Court, and a determination will be made as to the children’s residence. The Court will still consider the best interests of the child in these circumstances.

What should I do if there has been family violence?

Family violence is unacceptable. 

It can include any violent, threatening, or other behaviour designed to coerce or control a family member or that causes that person to be fearful. This can include for instance physical violence, stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, unreasonably withholding financial support, preventing a family member from making or keeping connections, and deprivation of liberty. 

Family violence against children includes them seeing or hearing threats, or violence or otherwise experiencing its effects, including comforting or providing assistance to a family member who is subject to the violence. 

If you have current safety issues please call the Police immediately. 

We can also assist you to make an Application in the Magistrates Court for a Family Violence Restraining Order to protect you and/or the children from your partner or spouse. Steps can also be taken in the Family Court for injunctions for your protection. 

If there are risks to your children, O’Sullivan Davies can assist you to make the appropriate application to the relevant Court to restrict the amount or type of time the children spend with the perpetrator and / or provide advice and strategies to minimize the possibility of any further risks – such as alcohol and drug testing, supervised time, or restraints against one party doing a specific act (such as bringing a child into contact with third parties who present a risk to the child).