The Family Law Act stipulates that in most cases, parents or legal guardians are responsible for their children until they reach the age of 18. Importantly, the responsibility for children doesn't change if the parental relationship breaks down or changes in some degree.
For couples in the middle of a separation or divorce, there are a number of things to keep in mind.
Child custody can be very simple and straightforward when a family unit breaks down, as long as both parents are willing to work together. If parents agree on the living and custody arrangements of their children, they can simply either set out a parenting plan or obtain consent orders which can be approved by the court.
A parenting plan is a written agreement from both parties that stipulates the plans they have for their children, such as living arrangements and any form of financial agreement regarding their care.
Consent orders can be obtained by the court. These are legally enforceable, so their content needs to be carefully considered before they are put into action.
The consent order can contain a significant number of different directives, which include custody arrangements between parents, the time spent with extended family members such as grandparents or the communication a child can have with other relatives.
If parents aren't able to come to an agreement regarding their arrangements for their children, then the Family Court will be an arbiter to decide what the arrangements should be. However before a Family Court hearing takes place there are a number of things to consider.
A parenting order can be obtained by the court and can set out a large number of directives regarding the circumstances of the child. They include where the child will reside, for how long that child resides at that location, financial support of the child and what communications the child will have with other people.
Such an order can be obtained by parents, grandparents or even the child themselves.
Talk to a family lawyer if you have any questions about the best way to protect your child from the fallout of divorce or separation.