How do I get custody of or time with my children or grandchildren?

When separating, one of the first questions posed by parents is “How do I get custody of or time with my children?” There is no easy answer to this question, but there are some basic things you need to know. It is possible for parents to work out custody and access arrangements for their children without going to Court. Some parents are able to make a suitable arrangement between themselves, some get the help of a mediator or family counsellor, and some need the help of a family lawyer and may otherwise need to go to Court. It’s important to keep in mind that parents do not have an automatic right to spend time with their children. Instead, arrangements are made based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Parents who may be prevented from spending time with their children are usually those who have been accused of abuse or have engaged in severe family violence. However, aside from extreme cases, it is rare for parents not to be allocated time with their children.

The law presumes that when parents separate or divorce, each parent will have ‘parental responsibility’ for the wellbeing of their children. This means that separated parents must make major decisions (e.g. decisions about health, education, religion) in consultation with each other. Parenting responsibility has nothing to do with how much time a parent spends with their children. It does not matter if a parent was never married to, or has ever even lived with, the child’s other guardian.

While the public still refers to ‘custody’ and ‘access’ or ‘residence’ and ‘contact’ when talking about their children, the Family Court now uses the terms ‘parenting orders’ (who the child will live with and who they will spend time with) and ‘parental responsibility’ (who gets to make major decisions about the child).

The team at Vic Rajah Family Lawyers have guided many parents wanting to relocate with children to live in a new place and also parents opposing moves which they do not agree to.

Child abduction or the removal of a child without the parent’s consent both domestically and internationally is another area where the team at Vic Rajah Family Lawyers can assist.