FAQs on Divorce Law: Top Questions Answered by Coastal Family Law Experts

Delve into the frequently asked questions about divorce law in Australia, answered by the experienced lawyers at Coastal Family Law, for a better understanding of the process and your rights.
Divorce Law in Australia: Answers to Common Questions | Coastal Family Law

Navigating the labyrinth that can be Family and Divorce Law in Australia can be a daunting task for anyone. The complex legal jargon and the emotional toll it takes on the individuals involved can make it an overwhelming process. 

Understanding this, our team of experienced family law experts at Coastal Family Law have compiled an insightful guide to the most frequently asked questions about divorce law. This comprehensive guide aims to clarify common misconceptions, dissect intricate legal concepts, and provide guidance in simple, relatable language. 

Providing clear, concise answers to your pressing queries, we aspire to make the divorce process less intimidating. Whether you’re contemplating divorce, currently in the midst of proceedings, or merely seeking to understand the intricacies of divorce law, this resource is designed for you. Now, let’s delve into the top questions on divorce law, decoded and demystified by our seasoned experts.

A Comprehensive Guide to Child Custody Laws in Australia

1. Understanding the “Best Interests of the Child” Principle 

In Australia, the overriding principle in child custody cases is the “best interests of the child.” The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and Family Court Act 1997 (WA) emphasises this principle, ensuring that the welfare, safety, and well-being of the child remain the main consideration in all parenting decisions. Factors evaluated when determining the best interests of a child include (but are not limited to):

  • The child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents
  • The child’s right to be protected from risk of harm (physical, emotional or psychological)
  • The child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and other significant persons
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs
  • The impact of any changes to the child’s current circumstances, including separation from either parent.

2. Parenting Orders vs Parenting Plans 

A child’s care arrangements can be reflected in either Parenting Orders or a Parenting Plan.

Parenting Orders are issued by the Family Court of Western Australia and legally define the responsibilities of each parent regarding the child. Consent Orders involve negotiated agreements between parents, which are then filed with and approved by the Court. Parenting Orders are enforceable and must be compiled with. A parent who breaches a parenting Order without a reasonable excuse can face serious consequences. 

Parenting plans are more informal than parenting Orders and offer more flexibility in that they are not legally binding. They are, however, a written document outlining the agreement regarding the child and how often they spend time with each parent. 

Some factors that may need to be taken into account in considering whether Parenting Orders or a Parenting Plan is best for your family are things like the ages of the children, whether you and the other parent can co-parent effectively and any history of conflict or disagreements between the parents. 

3. Key Factors in Determining Care Arrangements for Children

There are several factors that play a significant role in determining care arrangements for children. These factors are considered by the court when evaluating the best interests of the child:

  • The child’s age, needs, and preferences
  • Each parent’s living situation, work schedule, and ability to provide proper care
  • The child’s existing relationships with siblings, grandparents, or other family members
  • Any special considerations, including medical or educational requirements

4. Shared Parental Responsibility and Equal Time

Currently, there is a presumption that is applied under the legislation that it is in a child’s best interests for both parents to have “equal shared parental responsibility” for major decisions impacting the child. However, such responsibility doesn’t always equate to equal time spent with the child. 

5. Modifying Care Arrangements for Children

In some instances, care arrangements for children may require modification or review due to changing circumstances. However, the Family Court has been clear that there must be a substantial change in circumstances to warrant a change to final parenting orders. This threshold test is not easily overcome and will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. 

Cases involving a dispute about a child’s care arrangements can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. Seeking the assistance of an experienced family lawyer  can provide valuable guidance on your rights, negotiation tactics, and the court process. A qualified family lawyer will ensure that your interests are represented and help you navigate the intricacies of the Australian family law system.

7. The Importance of Mediation and Dispute Resolution

Mediation and dispute resolution play a crucial role in resolving disputes about children and this is generally the first compulsory step before a parent can make an application for parenting Orders to the Family Court. Engaging in mediation can help parents reach mutually agreeable custody arrangements that prioritise the best interests of their child.

8. Enforcing Parenting Orders

Enforcing parenting Orders can be essential in ensuring the welfare and stability of the child if one parent fails to comply with the terms of an Order. 

Enforcement applications or Contravention applications can be complex and are generally reserved for the most serious of breaches. 

It is crucial to seek legal advice before taking any further steps to address custody order breaches.

Secure Your Child’s Future with Coastal Family Law

Understanding the complex landscape of Family Law in Australia is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcome for your child during separation or divorce. With the support of Coastal Family Law, our clients can receive tailored advice and guidance on issues pertaining to child custody, parenting arrangements, and the legal processes involved.

Our team of experienced family lawyers is dedicated to providing compassionate and strategic solutions that prioritise your child’s welfare and best interests. Don’t face the challenges of child custody disputes alone—trust Coastal Family Law to represent your interests and help secure a stable and nurturing future for your child. 

Reach out to us today and discover how our expertise can provide you with the peace of mind and confidence needed to navigate the complexities of child custody matters.


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