It goes without saying that each family is different. When it comes to your parenting arrangements post-separation, there is no is no set formula to determine what will work best for you and your children.
Ultimately, you know your children better than anyone, and you are in the best position to determine what is in their best interests. But don’t be afraid to share the full details of your situation with your lawyer – our job is not to judge you but to help you move forward and make sure an amicable outcome is reached.
Meeting with a lawyer to discuss the future of your children can be daunting, so here are a few things you might like to think about and prepare to discuss in your first appointment:
- Are there any risk factors that need to be considered? This could be anything like allegations of domestic violence, one party relocating overseas, mental health issues, or drug or alcohol abuse. This will help determine if any urgent steps need to be taken.
- Details of your children – how is their relationship with you both, are there any health issues or sensitive matters? Understanding the needs of your children will help us to advise you further in relation to what arrangements may be appropriate.
- What arrangements do you currently have in place, if any? Are they working? What’s going wrong? Some specific questions to ask in relation to this are:
- What arrangements do you think are suitable for the children week to week?
- How and where will you drop off and collect the children at changeover?
- When they are not in your care, how will you communicate with the children and how often?
- How will you make decisions about major issues for your children in the future?
- What will you do for school holidays?
- What about special occasions such as Easter, Christmas, birthdays and Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?
- Are you thinking about travelling with the children now or in future? Have they got a passport?
When you think about these issues, be sure to put your children’s needs first. As parents, you put your children first all the time, so this shouldn’t be a hard thing to do. But when you might be dealing with a difficult ex-partner or you are overcome with stress, sometimes judgement can become clouded.
In situations where the children or a parent have been exposed to domestic violence and/or are at risk, special attention is required to ensure adequate protection is provided to that parent and/or children and urgent Court Proceedings may be necessary.
If you feel that either you and/or your children are at risk, or you feel threatened or unsafe, you should not hesitate to contact the Police on 000 for immediate assistance.
Some helpful resources for this stage: