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Parenting Matters in Brisbane

In Brisbane, the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court at North Quay in the CBD deal with family law disputes about who has care of and legal responsibility for children. These are also known as parenting matters. In parenting matters in Brisbane the court makes orders setting out who the children will live with and who will have parental responsibility for them.

When making parenting arrangements, courts must have the best interests of the children as their paramount consideration. It is important to remember that these matters are not about the right of the parents to have access to the children but rather the children’s right to spend time with each parent, provided it is in their best interests.

Parental responsibility in parenting matters in Brisbane

Parental responsibility is what is often referred to as ‘custody.’ The person or persons with parental responsibility is legally responsible for making major decisions about the children’s lives – such as what school they attend, what religion they follow and any major medical treatments they receive.

Equal shared parental responsibility

The Family Law Act establishes a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interests of the child that the parents should have equal shared parental responsibility. Section 61DA sets out this presumption. However, it does not apply if a parent has engaged in abuse of the child or of another child in the family or if a parent has been a perpetrator of family violence. The presumption can be rebutted by adducing evidence that equal shared parental responsibility is not in the children’s best interests.

Live with/spend time with

When the courts are deciding a parenting matter, they must decide who the child will live with and who they will spend time with as well as who will have parental responsibility. The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility does not mean that there is a presumption that the children should spend equal amounts of time with each parent. Who the children live with and how much time they spend with each parent is determined according to the circumstances base don what the evidence before the court suggests is in the best interests of the children.

Prior to determining what is in the children’s best interests the court will consider:

  • Who the children have lived with in the past;
  • Their relationship with each parent;
  • Where each parent lives;
  • Where the children go to school;
  • Where the extended family lives;
  • Their cultural needs;
  • Any other relevant circumstances.

Orders common in parenting matters in Brisbane

While most parenting orders include an order that the parents have equal shared parental responsibility, there is a range of orders courts may make with respect to who the children live with and spend time with. Commonly, Brisbane parenting matters include orders:

  • That the children live half the time with one parent and half their time with the other;
  • That the children live with one parent but stay for specified periods with the other parent. For example, that they live with the mother but stay with the father on every second weekend and for half the school holidays;
  • That the children live with one parent and spend regular time with the other parent (but do not stay overnight).
  • That the children live with one parent and have supervised contact with the other parent. Contact may be supervised by a family member, such as a grandparent, or in a contact centre.

A court may also order that the children spend time regularly with other significant persons such as grandparents or aunts and uncles. This usually occurs where there is a dispute between the parents as to whether this contact should occur or where such contact is considered important for cultural reasons.

If you require legal advice or representation in relation to Brisbane parenting matters or in any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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