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Arrangements For Children After Separation

  • Children respond to family breakdown in many different ways
  • Care arrangements should take into account a child's age and stage of development
  • The behaviour of the adults is critical to children's wellbeing

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  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Arrangements For Children After Separation

Who cares for children, and where they live, are some of the most important decisions parents and carers make.  The way adults behave towards the children, and each other, has an enormous impact on children’s lives and shapes their relationships in the future.

If you are making decisions for children, or supporting someone who is, ask yourself:

  • What will their lives be like as a consequence of this decision?
  • What will the children think of my behaviour when they are adults?
  • Am I making this decision for them, for me, or for someone else?

Experience tells us that children suffer when they feel they are:

  • asked to choose between their parents
  • responsible for the conflict in the family
  • the ones who are caring for a family member who is not coping with the separation

Children take comfort in:

  • being shown that they are loved
  • not being involved in adult drama
  • having clear, age appropriate information about what is happening and when
  • being able to be a kid
  • feeling safe to talk about the other parent or family positively.

We help our clients identify the kind of relationship they want with the children and with the other adults in the family, reality test the proposals and develop rules of engagement between the adults for communicating and making decisions about children.  We take care to educate ourselves and our clients about modern parenting techniques and child development, and refer to our child specialist colleagues if a family needs therapeutic guidance, rather than a legal intervention.

There are many urban myths about the parenting orders family courts make. Courts acknowledge that every child is unique, so it's important that families understand they are not constrained by decisions made for other children in different circumstances.

 

Family dispute resolution is mandatory before the adults can make applications to family courts (exceptions apply). When family courts make decisions about children, the law requires them to decide in the best interests of the children.  In deciding the best interests of the children, courts consider:

  • Safety of the children and other family members
  • The importance of a meaningful relationship with all family members
  • The developmental stage and cultural background of the child
  • What arrangements are practical for the child

Family courts can make decisions about children’s care until they reach 18 years of age.