Family Law Children's Matters

Not only is child custody the most stressful time for you as a parent but the children will probably be affected in some way by your separation. Children might react in different ways depending on their age. Whether you and your partner are amicable or not may also affect your children.

It is vital that you get legal advice at the earliest opportunity when going through divorce and separation to understand how to navigate this difficult and emotional time. Whether married or de facto, similar rules will apply. 

How does the Court decide who is responsible for the children’s welfare in child custody matters?

The court looks at the ‘best interests of the child’ and you will hear this phrase commonly used by family law lawyers and advocates. The Court also presumes that both parents are responsible for the care and welfare of their children until they reach 18 years of age. The Court also presumes that ‘shared custody’ will be in the ‘best interest of the child’.

How does the Court decide what are the ‘best interests of the child’?

The Court has a checklist to consider both primary and additional considerations. These are the primary considerations: 

The Court has a checklist to consider both primary and additional considerations. These are the primary considerations: 

Sad Child - Vania Holt Legal

Ready to get started now?

Parental Responsibility in Family Court Matters

There is a presumption that it is the best interests of the child for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child. This presumption is rebutted (ie does not apply) if there is family violence or abuse.

Parental responsibility includes responsibility for the care, welfare and development of the child. For example, deciding where the child goes to school, the child’s name and even the child’s living arrangements.

If there is no risk (ie no family violence) of harm then we need to work out whether this equal shared parental responsibility can be achieved by the child spending equal time or substantial and significant time with the parent.

Child Custody Lawyers Maitland

What is ‘shared parental responsibility’?

How do I work out if my child will spend equal time with both parents or substantial and significant time with one parent?

Even if the Court Orders say that both parents must equally share the parental responsibility, the court then needs to decide the best way to implement this. In doing this, it considers either:
Usually, the best interests of the child will be met if the child spends equal time with both parents but there might be situations where a child spends substantial and significant time with one parent. This might occur when:
Shared Parental Responsibility

In deciding what is reasonably practicable, the Court looks to:

To make a decision, the court weighs each of these considerations carefully. 

Need legal advice?

Vania Holt Legal are Expert Family Lawyers in Maitland and aim to make your (legal) life easier!
You can reach us on 0425 736 057 or at
Use use our contact form to provide your details to us:

What types of Agreements can be reached in relation to child custody matters?

Informal Parenting Arrangements

There is no Court involved here. It is the parties, usually amicably, informally discussing the parenting arrangements. It is often not documented and so it is difficult to monitor and impossible to enforce. For example, if one party enters a new relationship, circumstances may change. If there is a dispute, you have no legally binding document and so it might become a contested Court case.

Parenting Plans

Parenting plans are also informal arrangements between the parties. Even though they might be in writing, they are not made by the court. If there is a dispute, you do not have a legally binding document to rely on.

If you are concerned that your circumstances might change in the future, because you might have young children, then parenting plans are often used in this situation. You can make a parenting plan at any stage after separation.

Parenting Consent Orders

An agreement between the parties can be formalised by the Court for Consent Orders. You may have reached a long-term agreement with your spouse and want certainty for the future.

Since these are Court Orders, they are legally binding and enforceable (until your children are 18 years old) so if there is a breach of the Orders by your spouse/partner, you can apply to the court for assistance (contravention application) if the other party does not comply. The Court can do any of the following:
Parenting - Vania Holt Legal

I am not a lawyer! Help me!

If you would like legal advice, please contact us on 0425 736 057 or at . Alternatively, you can initiate your family law matter below by clicking on the tab above ‘Get Started Online’ at the top, right-hand side of this web page. This will provide you with a free, personalised report of where your matter sits now. If you decide to engage Vania Holt Legal, we will have this information on file so that it saves you the first hour or two in fees – win/win for everyone! Nothing better than saving money!

Please note that Guardianship is not one of our areas of practice. You can find out more about Guardianship via LawAccess NSW or NSW Trustee & Guardian. To find a solicitor to assist you in this area, you can use the Law Society of NSW Referral Service.

Scroll to Top

10 Min Free Consultation

Get a FREE 10 min consultation to discuss your legal needs with Vania Holt Legal
Please fill out your details and one of our experts will be in touch soon.