Our family law team assists numerous AV clients each year through the emotional roller coaster ride that comes with relationship breakdown. In this article, they explain the role that family lawyers can play in ensuring the best outcomes for the children of the relationship.
Determining care arrangements for children is usually one of the hardest aspects of separation. Indeed for many of our clients it is the most difficult thing they have or will ever have to face. Our role as legal practitioners is to provide much needed guidance and clarity in what for many is the hardest time in their life.
In practice, we find that disputes often arise because of misconceptions parents have about their rights when it comes to their children. Our laws presume that parents have shared responsibility for their children. What parents often mistakenly believe is that this same presumption applies to the care arrangements of the children, and that parents have a right to equal custody arrangements. In fact this is not the case. In determining care arrangements, the best interests of a child trump all other considerations as being of paramount concern.
Sadly, what we often see is a child’s best interests being overlooked by parents who have lost sight of the relationship their child has with the other parent, and the importance for their child to continue fostering that relationship. When approaching a court for orders, judges will view the actions of a parent very dimly if that parent has attempted to frustrate contact between the child and the other parent.
Our role as legal practitioners acting for either party is to direct the focus back on the children and the children’s best interests. Where possible, our focus is on staying out of court and keeping parents in control of what care arrangements will work best for their children. Often professional family counsellors assist the parties, and where necessary the court, in determining what is best for the children. Compromise is almost always the wisest path.
We assess each case on its own merits. In some cases, staying out of court is not an option because of issues such as risk of violence, abduction, or neglect, to name a few. In those instances we are able to obtain urgent court orders to protect children who may be at risk.
If you are going through a separation and are looking for guidance and clarity through the process, or if you are concerned about your children’s safety and need urgent assistance to protect them, we are here to help.