Children & Parenting Matters

As a parent, there’s nothing more important than the continued happiness, health and success of your children. Although divorce is tough for everybody involved, at Thornton Storgato Law, we believe in quickly resolving family disputes. Fast, decisive and enforceable parenting orders mean everyone can move forward with certainty.

When it comes to contacting a family law firm in West Pennant Hills and surrounding suburbs, you should be looking for experience, honesty and above all, family orientated representation.  We offer the expertise of a big city firm in a local environment.  We deal regularly with city based, bigger firms and achieve excellent results for our clients without charging big firm city premiums.

What are children and parenting matters in family law?

Children and parenting matters in family law relate to the living and care situations of minors under the age of 18 in the event their parents relationship becomes untenable.

Times have moved on from the assumed status quo when Mum stayed at home and Dad worked; primary care-giving and bread-winning is no longer gender-specific. In 2006, courts caught up with this change, presuming that it is in the best interest of every child to know and be loved by both parents, spending substantial and significant time with the parent they no longer primarily live with. Australian law explicitly states orders made should be driven by the best interests of the child, which is usually met by having both parents involved in a child or children’s lives after separation.  We also act for grandparents, aunts, uncles and other people concerned with the welfare of a child to protect children from risk of harm if living with the parent or parents is not ideal.

What if my spouse is abusive?

No child should have to witness or experience the horror of abuse whether physical or psychological. The Australian Family Law Court is driven by a protective philosophy. If there is evidence of family violence – including physical, mental or emotional abuse – the process may be expedited and the child can be protected from an abusive parent.  Supervised time or suspension of time may be ordered to insulate a child against an unacceptable risk of harm.  We have also acted for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to protect and provide for children at risk.

What is substantial and significant time?

Substantial and significant time means seeing your child during the week, on weekends, during holidays and the school term. It’s about maintaining normality as much as possible, enjoying the mundane and the special days – your general goal should be business as usual, without focusing on the separation of residence.

Social studies reveal children benefit from continued interaction with both parents either side of a marriage breakup, provided there’s no risk to the child or domestic abuse. We advise parents not to confide in or bad mouth their spouse to their children – it’s a highly emotional time for everybody, but the parents should be aiming for minimal interference to their child’s schooling, friendships and other healthy relationships despite the changing landscape at home.

You don’t want to see your spouse again, despite a continued relationship between the other parent and your child or children… what should you do?

Tell us. We can include any restraints like this in our order submission, ensuring the final order is one everybody understands and accepts.

When do you need a lawyer in parenting and children matters?

 Some clients meet with us before the separate. Others meet following separation. Whenever you are ready to ask questions, that is the right time for you. Although you may come to a temporary agreement with your spouse, the decisions you make following separation may become hard to modify later in time, and so it is important to make good decisions from the very beginning. Obtaining agreement or orders to maintain a sense of security for the children, pay for a lifestyle, to keep paying school fees, mortgage instalments, credit cards, other liabilities will be extremely important and the ground rules and expectations set at the beginning of separation will be an important step to take right from the start.

How will your children react when you announce your separation/divorce?

It really depends on your child. Age, personality and conflict between parents can all play a part. No matter how they react, it is important that they are supported, heard and loved – they’re going through a wild roller coaster of emotions without the perspective of adulthood.  It’s best they are not involved in the break down why’s and whens.  Put yourself in their shoes; would you want to be told to decide which parent you can love?

What if we want to actively co-parent together, but end our marriage?

An order that suits your lifestyle and parenting choices should be entered into even in the most amicable of circumstances. Unfortunately, we often see new partners, new demands on finances (such as purchase of an expensive car or new home), de-rail a previously good relationships. If you enter into workable orders, which provide flexibility to change with growing children but a base line to be referred back to in the event of disagreement, you should be able to work through most challenges which arise and avoid trying to enter into orders at a later stage when the relationship may have soured and the mood to co-operate has long gone.

What should I expect if I contact Thornton Storgato Law?

Our first meeting is exhaustive, after listening at length to your circumstance and really getting to the core of your concerns, we will present you with a detailed plan and options for you to choose. When it comes to hiring a family lawyers clients want somebody who cares about their kids as much as they do and that’s us.

The final draft of our orders will make you feel like you’re giving your kids the life they deserve or even continuing the life they already have with minimal disruption, ensuring a monumental chapter in your life represents an acceptable change in theirs.

Everything You Need to Know About Parenting Orders and Agreements

What is a parenting order?

A parenting order concerns the care and parenting arrangements for a child or children. The court can make the orders by consent after an agreement between both parties has been established (also known as consent orders) or following a court hearing. The specifics and rules of the parenting order are compulsory for those affected by it.  This is different from a parenting plan which is not enforceable or binding.

Parenting orders often specify one or more of the following:

  • Where the child will live and when.
  • The parameters of significant time, including moments spent with each parent and close family like grandparents.
  • Parental responsibilities or decision making;
  • How and when the child communicates with your spouse and others;
  • All aspects of child development, care and welfare;
  • If international travel is agreed.

What are parenting plans?

Less formal than either parenting or consent orders, parenting plans are often mediated discussions whereby both parents come to a private agreement about where their children will live, who they will live with, how often they will see both parents and a range of welfare and developmental questions. Unlike their official counterparts, parenting plans are not legally enforceable and often only work if the split is amicable with minimal emotional impact on the child or children.  Application to the court for parenting orders can be made even though a parenting plan has been agreed as parenting plans are not binding.

Remember, parenting plans must be free from any fear, threat or duress. If you feel coerced into signing a parenting plan, it is always advisable to reach out to a good family law firm like Thornton Storgato Law to support you through the process and ensure both you and your children live and thrive in safety.

What happens if one party disagrees with the orders?

Disagreements happen. In order to facilitate understanding and a clear path forward for separating couples and their children, the Commonwealth Government has enacted a scheme that grants people 2-3 hours of free meditation.

You may not be able to agree on every aspect.  Instead of subjecting children and your finances to a protracted court battle, Thornton Storgato Law will work with you to resolve any outstanding matters following dispute resolution and convert your agreement into a binding order.

What happens if mediation doesn’t work?

If family dispute resolution does not work, a Section 60i certificate will be provided and court proceedings can commence. If there is urgency or mediation is not appropriate in your circumstances, a 601 certificate is not required.  Read more about dispute resolution here.

Thornton Storgato Law is a family first law firm, dedicated to making children and parenting matters as stress free as possible for you and your family. The team at Thornton Storgato Law understands what it’s like to be a parent and a partner – we put ourselves in your shoes.