Nego­ti­at­ing par­ent­ing arrange­ments after sep­a­ra­tion or divorce

In brief — Emo­tions can cloud judgement

The biggest mis­take that peo­ple make when nego­ti­at­ing par­ent­ing arrange­ments is that they allow their own anger and hurt to cloud their judg­ment as to what par­ent­ing arrange­ments would be in the best inter­ests of their children.

Best inter­ests of the child

The Fam­i­ly Law Act 1975 (Cth) stip­u­lates that the best inter­ests of the child are the para­mount con­sid­er­a­tion when decid­ing on any par­ent­ing orders. When con­sid­er­ing this, in most cas­es, par­ents should con­sid­er an arrange­ment which pro­motes sta­bil­i­ty and reg­u­lar­i­ty for the chil­dren and allows them to main­tain a rela­tion­ship with both parents.

Impor­tance of children’s interests

In 2006 the Fam­i­ly Law Act 1975 (Cth) was changed and one of the impor­tant changes was to strength­en the impor­tance of children’s inter­ests. It sets out clear­ly that chil­dren have a right to:

  • A mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ship with both parents
  • Be pro­tect­ed from abuse, neglect and fam­i­ly violence
  • Receive ade­quate and prop­er par­ent­ing to help them achieve their full potential
  • Know and be cared for by both parents
  • Spend time with and com­mu­ni­cate with both par­ents and any oth­er sig­nif­i­cant peo­ple such as grand­par­ents and oth­er relatives
  • Receive the sup­port and encour­age­ment nec­es­sary to main­tain a con­nec­tion with their culture
Time with each parent

There is a mis­con­cep­tion about the changes to the Fam­i­ly Law Act 1975 (Cth) and the con­cepts of shared time and sub­stan­tial and sig­nif­i­cant time. The Fam­i­ly Law Act 1975 (Cth) does not require that chil­dren spend the same amount of time with each par­ent. The impor­tant thing is that par­ents have an arrange­ment which pro­motes the best inter­ests of their par­tic­u­lar chil­dren, keep­ing in mind that each child is dif­fer­ent. This may mean the same amount of time with each par­ent or some­thing different.

Deter­min­ing the child’s best interests

What will be in the best inter­ests of a child would be deter­mined by their per­son­al­i­ty, age, activ­i­ties and health, amongst oth­er things. Usu­al­ly it is the par­ents who are best able to decide what the best par­ent­ing arrange­ments for their chil­dren are. To do this the par­ents must be able to look past their own needs and hurt feelings.

Addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on nego­ti­at­ing par­ent­ing arrange­ments can be found on the web­site of the Fam­i­ly Law Courts.

For more infor­ma­tion contact: