Separated parents will usually share in making long-term decisions for the benefit of their children. One long-term decision relates to where a child will attend school. If parents cannot agree about their child’s schooling or one parent wants to change a child’s school without the other’s consent, parents may seek a resolution through the Family Courts.
This is one of the most common questions that family lawyers are asked by parents who are separated.
The Family Law Act 1975 and case law does not define the age for when children can decide who they live with. Generally, Courts are more likely to give greater weight to adolescent children’s views and wishes, in light of their developmental maturity in comparison to younger children. However, all family law matters are determined on a case-by-case basis and even the views of teenagers are not determinative.
Your bags are packed, the cruise is booked, but you realise that the passport you hold for your child has expired. Or you find that they never had one to begin with. In Australia there are three ways in which a passport can be obtained for a child.
Keeley & Ness  FCCA 644 is a recent Federal Circuit Court case concerning a mother’s application to relocate with her 7-year old son to Queensland, which was opposed by the father. The mother wanted to relocate as she was experiencing financial difficulties and had a lack of family and social support in Canberra.
People going through a separation are understandably under a lot of pressure; often financially and emotionally. It may seem tempting to reach out to others on social media for support or validation but there can be serious repercussions and unexpected consequences of doing so.
Things to remember...
There are many situations that may lead to children being placed in the care of family members other than their parents. This can be through concerns for mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, financial instability, or simply needing that extra support. But as the grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or family friend who has the child in their day to day care; should you consider applying for a Court Order for parental responsibility?
It is advisable to obtain advice from a family lawyer if you are considering overseas travel with your children, and you have not formalised any parenting arrangements in relation to your children.
Invariably, it will depend on your circumstances whether it is advisable to either take your children overseas for a holiday, or to allow them to be taken overseas on a holiday by another person.
In some cases, it is a criminal offence to take children overseas.
One of the considerations when applying for a divorce is that the Court will want to know that appropriate arrangements are in place for any children of the marriage after separation. This includes whether there are appropriate financial arrangements in place. One consideration will often be the payment of child support.
It is common that after separation, one party may wish to move from their current location to either return to their hometown, or to move elsewhere to start afresh.
Unless you have the prior written consent of the other parent, it is not advisable to move without the consent of the other parent of your children, or what is commonly referred to in the family law jurisdiction as ‘unilateral relocation’.
There is one very common question among parents who are separating or have separated: “Will I get custody of the kids?”
Children are entitled to have their views heard and considered as part of the decision making undertaken by Courts in determining their future living arrangements. The Family Law Courts offer a number of avenues for children to express their views. The paramount consideration is the best interests of the children. This does not always align with their wishes.
After separation most parents are able to reach agreement about arrangements for their children, but for some it takes longer than others. Unless there are Court orders in place, both parents continue to have parental responsibility for their children after separation. This means that there is an obligation on both parents to consult with one another and to attempt to reach agreement about arrangements for their children.