What's in your child's best interests?

Date: Aug 16, 2013

It is always hard to go through a divorce, but it can be even more complicated when there are children involved.

You have likely decided to separate from your partner because you think it will be best for both you and them. But what about your children? Who chooses what is best for them, and how do they come to such a decision?

If you and your spouse have parted amicably, chances are you can come to some sort of child custody arrangement all on your own. You can choose who the child will live with and for how long, as well as agree on terms such as financial support.

This agreement can be put in writing and made to be legally enforceable.

However, if you can't make the decision on your own, the court can do it for you.

When it comes to child custody agreements, you may have heard that a court's decisions are made with the "best interests of the child" in mind. But, what does this actually mean?

According to the Law Society of New South Wales, it is usually in the best interests of a child to get to know both of their parents, if this is possible.

For that reason, the court tends to favour (in general) granting joint custody when a child's parents separate.

This, of course, will be decided on a case by case basis. If, for instance, the child has experienced violence at the hands of one or other of the parents, the court may opt to make one parent the child's sole carer.

Even if joint custody -  or "equal shared parental responsibility" - is granted, this doesn't mean each parent will be allocated equal time with the child.

However, it does mean each parent gets a say in big decisions affecting the child, such as their education, or how they are raised in terms of religion and cultural factors.

The court takes many factors under consideration when deciding if one parent should be given more time with a child than another.

These can include how old the child is, his or her relationship with each parent, and how well the court believes the child will be looked after by either parent.

If you are separating from your partner and are in need of some family law advice, contact Craddock Murray Neumann today.

One of our areas of expertise is child custody arrangements, and we will do everything in our power to make sure your, your partner's and your child's best interests are reflected in any custody decisions made.