Separation can also be a difficult time for children especially when they are in their young age. They may experience all sorts of emotions that may be challenging for a child to deal with and this may lead to them behaving in abnormal ways. Despite a divorce or breakdown of a relationship, both parent’s responsibilities towards their children remain unchanged. When dealing with a Child’s Custody, you are required to make a realistic and practical plan for your future arrangements with your children. We understand that dealing with a separation can be emotionally stressful and difficult, if you are currently facing issues with your ex-partner about your Child’s Custody, please contact our experienced Family Lawyers to assist you with this matter.
Going to Court is the last resort.
We encourage you and your ex-partner to try to resolve things without going to Court. This process is called “family dispute resolution” and is compulsory in all family law matters involving children. This process is used to minimise legal costs and to help parents to reach agreements.
A matter can only be brought to the Court if the parties have exhausted all services available to resolve their matter.
When making arrangements for children, the Court will consider what are the best interests of the children.
The primary considerations include:
The need to protect a child from physical and psychological harm, including family violence and abuse, is a paramount duty that comes ahead of all other considerations.
According to the Family Law Act 1975, both parents have equal parental responsibility when it comes to making long term or short-term decisions for their children. In other words, both parents have a shared responsibility in deciding which school their children will attend in the future or major health issues.
This presumption will vary if it is not in the child’s best interest (eg. if one of the parents engaged in family violence or abuse). If such circumstance arises, the court may order sole parental responsibility to one parent.
In Queensland, a child has the right to express their wishes about where they prefer to live or who they wish to spend time or communicate with. Generally, children do not need to meet a specific age before their wishes can influence child custody.
However, if a child prefers to live only with one parent, the court will assess the child’s emotional maturity. A child’s wishes may change as they grow older, a custody agreement can be changed to suit their needs.
Child support is a financial support provided by the ‘payer parent’ to the ‘payee parent’. The cost covers the day-to-day expenses of a child and it may vary depending on the income of the payer parent and the child’s living needs. The Department of Human Services is now the responsible agent in managing child support payments.
If you are unable to reach an agreement about a child support payment with your former partner, the Department of Human Services can calculate the amount using the following 8-step formula:
If you are arranging a child support payment for one child, the above formula may be suitable for you. However, this may be complicated for parents with several children. Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced family lawyers to assist you in this matter.
You may object to the amount calculated by the Department of Human Services and request a review. However, you must submit an “Objecting to a Child Support Decision form” within 28 days from the day you receive the department’s decision letter. You may apply for an extension up to 90 days if you live outside of Australia.
If the payer parent failed to comply with their financial obligations, you may enforce any outstanding debt personally or inform the Department of Human Services about the outstanding debt. The Department of Human Services can enforce the child support payment by deducting the amount from the payer parent’s salary or tax return. If the payer parent owed a significant amount of child support payment, he/she may also be prevented from leaving Australia.
Child support does not apply to children over 18 years old. When a child reaches 18 years of age, the Family Law Court (or Federal Circuit Court) may determine adult child maintenance. This type of maintenance is normally only required if the child has an ongoing maintenance need, such as full-time tertiary study.
Yes, this usually applies to situation where the payer parent is financially insufficient to continue to pay for the child support. In this circumstance, either parent has the right to apply for a “Change of Assessment”.
You may be required to continue to pay for the child support even if you live overseas. This can be a difficult process if the payer parent is not an Australian resident. The Department of Human Services can forward the child support assessment to the payer parent’s country of residence. However, a different jurisdiction may or may not recognise or enforce it.
Child support usually ends after a child is turned 18. However, parents can sometimes be required by Court order to pay maintenance of a child above 18 years old.
The Court may make an adult child maintenance order in the following circumstances:
There are a few practical considerations the court will consider before granting a court order:
The Court may cease the Court order if:
There are no standard formula for calculating an adult child maintenance as the figures can vary and the Court has discretion.