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Can a Child’s view effect who gets custody?

If you’re a parent looking to get partial or full custody of your children, you may be interested to know how your child’s views and preferences are considered by the family courts. Find out from our child custody lawyers northside.

Child Custody Lawyers Northside

Child Custody Lawyers Northside

The situation

A recent High Court decision this year considered parenting arrangements where the children had  expressed that they wanted to live with their father. In that case, the father had initially taken his two sons on a holiday from Australia to New York. A week and a half into the trip, the father decided he wished to stay in the United States with the boys and not return to Australia. The mother filed an application seeking that the children be returned to Australia.

The parents had already made parenting orders a few years earlier which provided both parents with equal shared parental responsibility for the two boys and their daughter. That means that they shared responsibility for long term decisions effecting the children.

As part of those orders, the children would live with the father and the mother as agreed between the parties or at the children’s own election. The orders allowed for the children to travel overseas for a holiday with a parent but did not permit a child to decide, independently of his or her parents, whether or not the child would live in Australia or abroad. The father was in breach of the parenting orders then by keeping the children to live with him in New York.

The children had expressed that they wanted to remain with their father in New York rather than with their mother. So, how did the courts decide where the children would live?

What did the courts decide?

The primary judge in the matter ordered that the boys be returned to Australia. Once the boys returned home, the orders (as agreed by the mother) allowed the boys to choose from a number of options, where they would live. These options included living with the mother, living in accommodation provided by the father together with paid supervision services or, living with one of their friend’s parents who had agreed to accommodate the boys. If the father chose to return to Australia, the boys could also choose to live with him. These orders gave weight to the children’s preference as to where and with whom, they wanted to live.

Why do the courts consider the child’s preference and how much weight is given to it?

In making orders, the Family Court was required to consider the best interests of the children. The views expressed by the children were just one of the many factors considered by the court in deciding what is in the best interests of the child. The level of importance to be given to a child’s view will depend upon factors such as the child’s age or maturity, and level of understanding of what is involved in the choice they have expressed. A child may not, for example, appreciate the long-term implications of separation from one parent or the child’s siblings.

The primary judge in this case had made an interim order that allowed the children to live with a third party, someone other than their parents. The boys had expressed views that suggested at least one or both of them would not want to live with their mother. The court allowed other mothers of longstanding friends of the boys to be appropriate guardians. In deciding whether these other parents were appropriate guardians for the children to live with, the court considered whether they could offer “nurturing and care”, implement arrangements for monitoring homework, transportation to and from school and the type of sleeping arrangements that the boys would be given.

These orders were only interim orders however. The court found that more information would be desirable before making a long term parenting order in favour of third parties. In circumstances of urgency however, there was sufficient evidence before the court to make interim orders which included the option for the boys to live with one of their friend’s parents.

Want to learn more about child custody and parenting arrangements?

If you would like to learn more about child custody, have a look at our resources here created by our experienced child custody lawyers northside.

Or, if you’re looking to receive tailored legal advice, contact our team of child custody lawyers northside. Contact us today to receive a FREE 15-minute consultations with one of our experienced child custody lawyers northside.

Parenting plan

Tips for arranging Mother’s Day with your former partner

Mother’s day is just around the corner. For children, it’s a good day to stop and appreciate the very special role Mother’s play in your life. For Mother’s, it should be a day filled with relaxing and spending quality time with your children. However, if you’re separated, it may be a difficult day to negotiate with your former partner.

To avoid any stress or confusion on the day, it’s a good idea to put in place a parenting plan with your former partner ahead of time. Here’s a few tips on how to ensure this Mother’s Day is an enjoyable one.

Parenting plan

Making a parenting plan for Mother’s Day

Whether this is your first Mother’s Day post-separation or you have been separated for a while, it can be a challenging day to face on your own. Naturally, as a mother, you want to spend this important day with your children.  It’s important then to ensure that you and your former partner can agree on a parenting plan for the day that will work well for you both as well as for the children.

There are a number of parenting plan methods you can put in place for Mother’s Day, depending on what suits both parties. Some more common ones include:

  1. A time-sharing arrangement over Mother’s Day weekend: This allows both parties to enjoy part of the day or weekend with the children. For instance, one parent (more likely the Father) would have the children from 9:00am on the Saturday until 9:00am on Mother’s Day. Then 9:00am on Mother’s Day until 9:00am the next day would be spent with the other parent (more likely the Mother).
  2. Mother’s Day arrangement: This parenting plan allows the children and you to enjoy your special day with the children. The children spend Mother’s Day each year with you. You might agree to make it a weekend or just the day that the children spend with you on Mother’s Day.

A similar parenting arrangement can then apply for the children to spend time with their Father on Father’s Day.  No matter what parenting plan you and your former partner decide upon, it’s a good idea to choose an arrangement that is less disruptive for the children and, if there is conflict between you and your former partner, one which involves as little interaction for you with your former partner as possible.

It is not a requirement for parenting arrangements that you have any legal agreement or court orders in place.  It often really helps however, if you and your former partner at least have a parenting plan that sets out what you have agreed for parenting arrangements. This will help to ensure that you have both considered all factors.

If agreement cannot be reached or where there is conflict or domestic violence involved, a court order can give you certainty and limit or exclude occasions where you and your former partner would otherwise need to interact in relation to arrangements for the children.

A court order may be obtained by agreement with your former partner and in that case, you do not need to attend at Court.

If agreement cannot be reached for consent orders to be issued, you may need then to consider making an application to court seeking parenting orders.  Depending upon your circumstances, you will likely need to attend or at least attempt a dispute resolution meeting with your former partner before any application is made to court.

You are welcome to contact us at LGM Family Law for advice specific to your circumstances. We can assist you in reaching a parenting plan or where necessary, obtaining court orders for arrangements for your children.

For more information on child custody, see here.

Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane

Relocating a child | Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane

On 4 April 2017, Queensland footballer and Melbourne Storm superstar Cooper Cronk announced that in 2018, he would be relocating from Melbourne to Sydney with his fiancé. With the issue of moving inter-state currently in the media, we wanted to look at relocation in Family Law on our blog this week, and in particular, how it works when parents are separated and one parent wants to move and take the children with them. Read on to find out from our Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane.

Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane

Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane

 

Sometimes, a parent may wish to relocate with the children interstate or to a place which is not within easy reach for the other parent to spend time with the children. If this is your situation and you and your former partner cannot reach agreement or resolve matters at a mediation, you will need to file an Application in court.

It is important to remember that as an adult, you have the right to pack up and go wherever and whenever you choose. However, as a parent, your child’s best interests must be considered. It may be that your child’s best interests lie in making the move that you wish to make. However, if the other parent objects, you may find that resolving this issue sees you in Court unless parents can reach agreement.

In most cases, you must attempt a dispute resolution meeting with the other parent before seeking the assistance of the court. However, this may not apply if the other parent has already relocated with the children without your consent. You may then apply to the Court seeking a recovery order and other parenting orders. You may wish first to try to reach agreement with the other parent. You  should be mindful though of not leaving it too long to go before the court if agreement cannot be reached. You will want to avoid a situation where your children become established in their new environment, possible involving a new school or kindergarten.

If you are the parent wanting to move, where agreement cannot be reached with the other parent through negotiation or a dispute resolution meeting, you will need to apply to court seeking a parenting order which provides for the children to relocate with you.

Once you get to Court

All parenting cases are determined on the facts of the case. There is no pre-determined outcome for a matter regarding relocation nor a formula that can be applied.  The Court will consider all the usual factors that are relevant in a parenting case.

The Court will need to determine whether it is in the best interests of the child to spend equal time with each parent and whether equal time is reasonably practicable. If it is not, the Court must consider whether the child spending substantial and significant time with each of the parents is in the best interests of the child and whether it is reasonably practicable.

The paramount consideration for the Court will always be what is in the best interests of the child. When determining what is in the child’s best interests, the court will consider the benefit of a child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, whether there is any risk of or actual family violence or neglect and numerous other factors.

As the parent wanting to relocate, you do not need to provide a compelling reason to the court for wanting to move. That being said, it can help when attempting to persuade the court that it will be in the child’s best interests to allow the child to relocate to demonstrate your reasons for wanting to relocate. Those reasons may for example effect your capacity to parent and this will be of relevance in determining what is in the best interests of the child.

Case Study

Sally and Mike have been married for 14 years. They have a 5 year old child, B. The family moves to a rural mining town for Mike’s new job. Sally really struggles with living in a rural town and decides to return to Brisbane with B. Sally and Mike separate shortly after. Mike applies to the court for a recovery order – to have Sally return to the rural town with B. This order was made, and upon returning to the town, Sally could not find a full-time job or a house for her and B to live in.

Upon appealing the recovery order, the court finds that although it was in the best interests of B to be able to spend equal time with both parents, it was not reasonably practicable for that equal time to occur in these circumstances. In circumstances where the relocation meant that Sally was living in a caravan and relying on Centrelink for income, the court ought to have considered alternative orders.

Get in Contact with our Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane

If you or someone you know is going through a similar situation, it’s important to seek legal advice early on. Our Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane, offer professional and experienced advice that can help you and your family to move forward in life. For more information on Child Custody, click here. Or, give our Child Custody Lawyers Brisbane a call today for a free 15 minute consultation.

 

Single mum

Expecting mother? Do you have rights to financial contributions as a single mum?

Expecting mother? Wanting financial contributions from the father? If you’re about to be a single mum, it’s important to know what rights you and your unborn child have in accessing financial contributions. Read on to find out how.

Single mum

What rights do you have as an single mum?

 

After the recent swearing in of Donald Trump to office, the anti-abortion/pro-life argument has again become more publicised. In Australia, the fact of the matter is that the Family Court cannot make orders in relation to an unborn child. Consistent with that, a husband cannot prevent his wife from terminating a pregnancy.

With dating apps becoming all the more popular these days, the stigma which previously surrounded  pre-marital sex is becoming less prominent and, gradually, these notions are becoming more accepted by society. Likewise, pregnancies from artificial insemination and single parent adoptions are more common-place. In 1980 only 12.4% of babies were born outside of a marriage, compared to 2008 when more than one-third of all babies born were born outside a marriage.[1]

So what rights do you have as a single mum?

Liability of a father and what can be claimed

Section 67B of the Family Law Act 1975 allows a pregnant woman who is not married to the father of the child to apply to the court to have the father of her unborn child provide her with financial support.  The financial support includes a proper contribution by the father towards:

  1. the maintenance of the mother for the childbirth maintenance period in relation to the birth of the child; and
  2. the mother’s reasonable medical expenses in relation to the pregnancy and birth.

The section of the legislation can be broken down into different parts:

  1. Maintenance of the mother

It is only the mother’s maintenance and the mother’s medical expenses which are to be considered under a section 67B Application. This means the costs of purchasing clothes for the baby, nappies, baby food or formula, and furniture items such as a crib, are not covered under this application. These items instead fall under an application for child support.

The mother’s maintenance includes the living costs of the mother. This means things like the mother’s rent, food, phone and internet, petrol, car expenses, purchasing of maternity clothes, and so on.  The birth of the child and medical expenses includes medical costs such as pre-natal supplements, doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and stays, anaesthetist costs, and so on.

  1. The period of time

The act states that the period of time for which the father is liable to pay maintenance is as follows:-

  1. For no more than 3 months after the child is born;
  2. For no more than 2 months before the child is born. The exception to this is if the mother is employed, and receives medical advice from a Doctor to stop working for medical reasons related to her pregnancy and the mother then stops work after receiving that advice and more than 2 months before the child is due to be born; and
  3. If the mother dies as a result of the pregnancy or birth or the child is stillborn or dies where the death is related to the birth, then the father may be liable to make a proper contribution towards the reasonable expenses of the mother’s funeral and/or the child’s funeral, as the case may be.

What needs to be proven

The s67B Application itself is not as simple as the mother applying to the court for assistance and then receiving the funds she needs. The court has a duty to consider a number of things before awarding the financial support.

As summarised in a recent Federal Circuit Court Case[1], the Court must consider:-

  1. How much money each parent is able to earn, what property they each own, and what financial resources they each have (noting that an income-tested pension allowance or benefit – such as the baby bonus – is not considered to be a financial resource for either parent); and
  2. The necessary commitments both parents have for supporting themselves, as well as commitments to support any other child or person; and
  3. any special circumstances which, if not considered, would result in an injustice outcome or cause undue hardship to any person.

The court must be satisfied that the father is in a position to be able to make a contribution and that the mother is in need of the support. If the court is satisfied that this is the case, the court will then considers what is a “proper contribution”. Generally, courts consider a half share of the mother’s costs to be a proper contribution.[2]

The court will then determine when the father must make the payment and how the payment must be paid, whether by a lump sum or by weekly payments.

Please be advised that each circumstance will differ. If you think this section my apply to you as a single mum, or you would like legal advice for any other family law matter, contact us. We offer free 15-minute telephone consultation with our highly-experienced team of lawyers.

 

[1] Millar and Johnston [2015] FCCA 543

[2] Abrahams & Simm [2014] FCCA 67

Sources:

[1] Australian Institute of Family Studies, Families then and now: 1980 – 2010 (16 February 2017) Australian Government – Australian Institute of Family Studies <https://aifs.gov.au/publications/families-then-and-now-1980-2010>

Easter season

Parenting arrangements for Easter

Make this Easter an enjoyable one for the whole family with these simple parenting arrangements. 

Easter is an exciting time of year, particularly for the children. It’s a time for laughter, family and hopefully a visit from the Easter Bunny! As a parent, it’s natural to want to spend as much of this holiday season with your children. However, where you are separated from your former partner, getting to spend the entire holiday period with your children may not be an option. It’s important for your children that they can spend time with each of you.

You will want to plan ahead how the children will spend their time over this period.  Try to come to an arrangement that will involve the least disruption for your children as possible.

There are two common arrangements that you may like to consider. These are: a time-sharing arrangement or; an alternate year arrangement.

  1. A time-sharing arrangement each year

A time-sharing arrangement can come in a number of forms, depending on what suits both parties. One option might be for the children to spend from 9:00am on the Thursday until 9:00am on Easter Saturday with one parent and from 9:00am on Easter Saturday until Easter Monday 5:00pm with another. These times can then be reversed for each parent on alternate years.

  1. An alternate year arrangement

This would involve the Easter period being spent with one parent one year and alternating to the other parent the following year. One parent may choose to take all years ending in an odd number, whilst the other parent agrees to take years ending in even numbers.

It is wonderful if you can make arrangements directly with your former partner in an amicable way. If that is difficult in your situation however, we are able to help you with negotiating an agreement with your former partner.

For more ideas on parenting arrangements, see our related post. Or, if you need further advice or are struggling to reach an agreement with your former partner, contact our friendly team today.

 

Helping to ensure child safety

Let’s talk child safety.

Every child deserves to feel safe and protected at all times. Unfortunately, not every child has that security.  If you have been witness to child harm or have reason to suspect that a child is being subjected to harm, it is important to know what you can do to help ensure that child’s safety. Whether you’re a concerned family member, teacher, doctor or friend, your voice is an important one in preventing harm to a child.

Helping to ensure child safety

What is harm?

The Child Protection Act 1999 provides authority for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to intervene where a child has been or is at risk of being harmed.  Harm is considered as any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. Harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect or through sexual abuse or exploitation.

Is the child in need of protection?

A child may have already suffered significant harm, be currently suffering significant harm, or be at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm. In any of these situations, where the child does not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from harm, under the Child Protection Act 1999, that child is considered to be in need of protection.

So, what do you need to do next?

If you reasonably believe that a child may be in need of protection, you may contact the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.  There are also certain people who are mandated to notify the Department, such as doctors, teachers and registered nurses, where during the course of their engagement they form a reasonable suspicion concerning significant harm having been suffered or being suffered, by a child or there being an unacceptable risk of the child suffering significant harm, caused by physical or sexual abuse and that the child may not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from the harm.

When informing the Department of an alleged child abuse issue, it is important to provide a detailed, clear, and comprehensive report. The Department will use that information to determine whether or not to investigate allegations of harm and to carry out an assessment to determine if a child is in need of protection.

Providing this information in a timely manner to the Department, can seriously improve the child’s chances of being protected against any further harm. For more information on child safety, visit the government website, or contact the LGM Family Law team today.

Allegations of family violence in a child custody battle

How might family or domestic violence allegations affect you seeing your children?

Your former partner has falsely accused you of abusing them in the presence of your children. Maybe you have been falsely accused of abusing your children. Will it impact your parental right to see and spend time with your children? What can you do?

Dealing with family violence accusations

 

It can be a distressing time discussing parenting arrangements (previously known as child custody) with your former partner. Add a false accusation of abusive behaviour, and your stress levels could go through the roof. It is important to take these sorts of accusations seriously. They may impact the orders that a court will be willing to make around the time that your children have with you, at least on an interim basis. However, the fact of accusations being made doesn’t mean you lose any chance of seeing your children.

In the early stages of a court proceeding, orders may be made for the time that children spend with each parent on an interim basis.  Those Orders ordinarily outline the role of each parent, and often set out who will have the primary care of your children until further orders are made. Although it is only the first order, these orders may be in place for up to a year or more depending on how your matter progresses and how busy the court lists are.

How might a false accusation of family violence impact your rights at this early stage?

The court has two primary considerations when it comes to parenting arrangements for a child. The first is to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and both of their parents. The second is to protect the child from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect, or family violence. However, the court must give greater weight to the second consideration – protecting the child from abuse, neglect, or Family violence. If there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or family violence, the court must look at making provisions to protect the child. This could mean that one parent receives primary care of the child/children, whilst the other parent may have restricted or only supervised time with children, at least until the Court is able to test the evidence concerning the allegations of violence.

During an interim hearing, evidence cannot generally be tested and instead, is weighed up on the probability of the claim.

However, the court is entitled to heed allegations which the court regards as significant and to consider the allegations in the context of an interim hearing.

Our experienced legal team can help you through this process, to ensure your evidence is presented in a way which will assist your case.

Free Consultations with our Family Lawyers at Chermside

Monthly Free Consultations with our family lawyers! Next session 5:00pm-8:00pm on 4 August 2016. We offer complimentary consultations each month at Chermside. One of our family lawyers will be available to give you personal advice on your matter. You or a family member may have separated or may be thinking about your future direction. Whatever your situation, knowing where you stand can help you make the best decisions for you and your family. CONTACT US to make your booking. PRE-REGISTRATION is ESSENTIAL and places are limited.

Family Law Consultations

 

Or if you can’t make it to one of our free consultations held at Chermside, why not give us a call today? We know it can be tricky knowing where to start when you’re looking for advice following a separation, child custody battle or any family law matter. That’s why we provide free 15 minute consultations over the phone. You can speak with one of our senior solicitors to gain useful and immediate advice to help you start your journey forward. Call us now.

A reason for caution in Family Reports and how your children will be involved.

Things to be aware of in family reports and how your children will be involved.

Children

Family reports and how your children will be involved.

If you are before the Court in a parenting matter, you may expect that the Court will make interim orders requiring the preparation of a family report. The report is prepared by a family report writer after he or she will have spoken with you and your former partner and quite likely your children also. Dependent upon the age of your children, the time that the report writer spends with your children may be more discussion or play based.

The report that the report writer prepares is filed in the Court and forms part of the evidence before the Court. The report will likely include some account of the interview held with each of you and your former partner and the children. Where children have expressed a view about how much time they wish to spend with each parent, you may expect that this will be included in the report. At the same time, the report writer is likely to include in the report some observations concerning the level of maturity of the children and the consequent weight to be given to their views. The more mature the child appears to be, the greater the weight you may expect will be given to their views.

The amount of time that the report writer spends interviewing a family varies but it is not unusual for the interviews with each of you and your former partner and children to extend collectively over approximately 4-6 hours for a family of four and sometimes longer. However, whether the collective interview period is some 4 hours or 8 hours, the opportunity that the report writer has to gain some insight into the dynamics of a family can sometimes be quite limited.

Report writers are typically very experienced and adept at concentrating the interviews on the areas in issue. Nonetheless, the views that they form are predicated on the information available to them. That information includes the evidence as disclosed by the affidavit material filed by both you, your former partner and any medical experts as well as information gleaned during the interview process.

Even if certain facts concerning your family are evident to you, unless those facts are borne out by independent evidence filed in your case, you risk the report writer considering that what you believe are facts are a matter of your opinion only.

A family report is one tool but an important tool available to the Court to assist in its determination regards what Orders should be made concerning your children. The Judge is not obliged to accept recommendations made by the Family Report Writer but those recommendations may be persuasive. If you are not satisfied with any recommendations made by a Report Writer, you may take issue with them before the Court but before doing so, you need to be sure that there are justifiable grounds for doing so.

For some people, it is not possible to reach agreement with their former partners concerning their children and a Court action becomes necessary. It is important to understand the role of the family report. It is also import to ensure that any allegations that you may have, whether concerning mental health or drug issues affecting your former partner or going to the competence or otherwise of your former partner to provide appropriate care for your children, are properly evidenced, including appropriate independent third party evidence.

If you would like to learn more about arrangements for children, read here. Or, you can contact our experienced staff today to find out how we can help you in your family law matter.

Court Hearing

Tips for Appearing in Family Courts

Preparing for a family court hearing? It can be a stressful and emotionally-fulled time in the lead up to a court hearing. However, it’s important to know what to expect and how to prepare for your court hearing in order to achieve the best outcome.

Court Hearing

Preparing for a court hearing in family law.

This article is intended to help you whether you are representing yourself in a court hearing or are going to have legal representation. We have set out below some of the things that you should do preparing for Court as well as things to do and things to avoid in the courtroom.

Be Prepared

You will need to be sure that you have prepared and filed with the Court within the required time all of the documents that are required for your next hearing. If you are self representing, it will help you to find what you need when you are before the Court if your files are organised and clearly marked. Make sure too that you have a pen and note pad with you. If you have not been in a court before, it can help put you at your ease if you sit in a courtroom before your hearing so that you can see the court layout and understand something of the court process. Most court hearings are heard in open court so that you are permitted to enter the court.

What to wear in Court

The court is a formal place so you should dress accordingly. If you are a man, this does not mean having to wear a suit but long trousers, a shirt and appropriate shoes are a good idea. For women, a neat dress or long pants and shirt would be appropriate to wear.

Make other arrangements for your children

You should make arrangements for your children’s care for the day when you come to court. Court is not generally an appropriate place for children.

However, if as a result of a Court Order, your child needs to attend court to speak to a family consultant or judicial officer, you should check with court staff or through your solicitors in advance whether any child-care arrangements need to be made for the day.

Family and friends

You may wish to bring an adult family member or adult friend with you on the day in Court for support. There may be quite a bit of time that day spent waiting for your case to be called before the Judge or Registrar so it can be helpful to have some company. However, you should know that it is only your solicitors or if you are self represented, you, who may speak on your behalf in Court unless Court approval is obtained.

Arrive Early

We suggest that you arrive at Court at least 30 minutes before the time set down for the hearing and once there, locate the Court where your case will be heard.

There is generally a duty lawyer available (if you are eligible for assistance) to assist you on the day of your court hearing but you should be aware that their time is limited.

Inside the courtroom

The court officer or associate will generally appear outside the courtroom some time before the time that your case is set down for hearing. If you are self representing, before you enter the courtroom, you should present yourself to the court officer or associate and give them your name and let them know that you are self representing. If you have solicitors acting for you, they will inform the court officer or associate of your presence.

Once inside the courtroom, you will have to wait for your case to be called as there may be a number of cases listed on the same day. During this time, you should avoid talking whilst the Court is in session. You will need to stand each time that the Court commences or adjourns. The court officer or associate will signal the appropriate time to stand by saying ‘All rise’ or ‘Please stand’.

When your case is called and addressing the Court

When you hear the court officer or associate call your case, you should stand and sit in the place where your solicitors indicate behind them at the bar table.

If you are self representing, you should walk to the bar table as the court officer or associate directs. You will need to take your files and paperwork with you but be careful not to put any bags or cases on the bar table.

If you are self representing, you should stand whilst you and the other parties announce themselves. You announce yourself by stating your name and whether you are the applicant or respondent.
In the Family Court, either a judge or registrar will hear your case. In the Federal Circuit Court, a judge or for divorce hearings, a registrar, will hear your case. You should address a judge as ‘Your Honour’ and a registrar as ‘Registrar’.

Where you are self representing, you should stand each time that you are speaking or being spoken to in Court unless the Court directs you otherwise. You should be careful to speak clearly and politely and not to address any person other than the judge or registrar. You should not raise your voice and your face should be impartial no matter that the other party or his or her Counsel may make comments with which you do not agree.

When Orders are made and leaving the courtroom

The judicial officer will state the orders that are made and reasons given. Those orders will not be issued in hard copy until some time after the hearing so it is important if you are self representing that you write them down when they are being announced as well as reasons given. If you miss hearing part of the orders or are uncertain as to what was said, whilst you are still at the bar table, you should ask for the orders to be repeated once the judicial officer has finished speaking. If you do not understand any of the orders, you should ask the judicial officer to explain their meaning.
If a decision is reserved or held over for another time or date, you must attend court when the decision is handed down.

The Orders made will generally state the time and date for the next hearing if your case is ongoing. Once orders on a particular day are made, you can leave the bar table and the courtroom. If the Court is still in session after your matter is heard, as you leave the courtroom (and any time that you enter or leave the courtroom when the Court is in session), you should pause briefly at the door briefly and nod to the judicial officer. If your case is the last to be heard on the day, you should stand at the bar table while the judicial officer leaves the bench.

Personal Safety

If you have any worries about your safety, you should let the Court know at least two days in advance of any court date. The Court can assist with your safety when attending court. You can inform the Court by calling 1300 352 000 and speak with a Client Service Officer who will decide what arrangements are needed for your safety at Court. You must tell the Court in advance if there is a current family violence or protection order.
If you have concerns about your safety outside the Court or any questions about family violence, you should contact the police or seek legal advice about obtaining a Protection order.

If you’re looking for legal representation in a family court hearing or would like some legal advice, our family lawyers are happy to help. We even offer free 15 minute consultations over the phone.

Child Custody

Child Custody | A child’s view and how the court knows that view

Involved in a child custody matter or considering starting an application? You may be wondering what a court will take into consideration when deciding who the child will live with.

The primary concern of the court, is the well-being of the child. The court looks to maintain the child’s relationship with both parents where possible, but it’s main focus is on the safety of the child physically and mentally. In determining this in a child custody matter, the court will look to assess and consider, what the child’s view is. How does the court know what a child’s view is in a child custody or parenting matter? Read on to find out.

Child Custody

Child Custody matters

The Court may inform itself of views expressed by a child by:

  1. considering the contents of a report by a family consultant. A family consultant who is directed to give the Court a report on a matter relevant to proceedings is required to ascertain the views of the child regarding that matter  and include the views of the child on that matter in the family report (unless this would be inappropriate because of the child’s age or maturity or some other special circumstance);
  2. making an order for an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) to be appointed for a child. One of the duties of an independent children’s lawyer is to ensure that any views expressed by the child in relation to matters before the Court, such as arrangements for where the child lives, are fully put before the Court; or
  3. by such other means as the Court considers appropriate.  This may include consideration by the Court of  a family report obtained upon the joint instructions of both parties to the Court action.

However, neither the Court nor any other person (whether a family consultant, ICL or otherwise) may require a child to express his or her view regards where he or she wishes to live or regards any other matter.  It may be important for a child to understand this, particularly if the child is feeling very conflicted at the prospect of expressing an opinion favouring any parent.

 If you would like to learn more about child custody, click here. Or, to get tailored legal advice, call our experienced team of family lawyers today.
Brisbane Family Lawyers

Can children choose where they live? Our Brisbane Family Lawyers explain.

Whether you’re a parent or a child in a parenting matter, you may be wondering, can a child choose where they live? It’s important to have an understanding of how the court will decide where a child lives and what factors they will take into consideration. Our Brisbane Family Lawyers explain what happens in the court process to determine this.

Brisbane Family Lawyers

Brisbane Family Lawyers

The Court must consider any views given by a child as to where he or she wishes to live. This is taken into account as well as other considerations so that the Court may determine what is in the best interests of the child. The Court must also consider others factors, such as the child’s maturity or level of understanding,  that the Court thinks relevant to determine what weight the Court should attach to any view given by a child. For example, the Court would take into account any evidence of a child having been influenced in his or her view by a particular parent or other family members. The Court takes a dim view of any attempt by a parent to influence a child to say that he or she wants to live with one parent or primarily with one parent in preference to another. Absent evidence of influence upon a child, the view then of a fourteen year old as to where he or she wants to live would generally be expected to carry more weight than a similar view expressed by a four year old. However, the view of even a mature older child may not be definitive of the matter. There are other considerations to also be taken into account which may also effect the outcome, for example, the views of each parent and the practical difficulty and expenses of a child spending time with a parent.

For more information on child custody, click here. Or, give our experienced Brisbane Family Lawyers a call today to receive tailored legal advice. We offer free 15 minute consultations over the phone to help answer some of your initial questions you may have regarding family law.