We represent survivors in applying for or responding to family law parenting matters.

We understand through experience in advocating for domestic violence survivors that ending an abusive relationship does not necessarily end the violence and fear, particularly when children are involved.

Despite far greater awareness of domestic violence in the wider community, experience shows there is lack of understanding of the nature and impact of domestic abuse, and in particular, non-physical abuse is not well understood. Abusers seem to lack insight into their own behaviours and the affect they have on their children.

They are often in complete denial and adopt a culture of “contact at all costs”.

Where there are safety issues due to domestic violence or if there is an unacceptable risk to the children, we will advise you on your parenting rights and assist you in putting suitable parenting arrangements in place with appropriate safety measures in mind.

We are passionate about holding abusers accountable and bringing the safety and wellbeing of you and your children to the forefront. In cases involving physical, sexual and emotional abuse, having prior understanding of your domestic violence situation, we can assist you ensure that Courts take your domestic violence seriously and apply for visitation to be supervised or even eliminated in some cases.

If parents agree

If parents are amicable and an agreement is reached, we can draft Consent Orders so it is enforceable at law and by the Police if there is a serious breach. Resolving it at this early stage, means that the parents do not need to attend Court (provided proceedings have not commenced).

If parents don’t agree

If parents cannot reach an agreement with respect to children’s disputes, they will need to attend Mediation. In most cases, Mediation is mandatory before applying to the Court to seek parenting orders.

If no agreement is reached after Mediation, then the Mediator will provide a Section 60I Certificate and you will need to apply to the Court for Parenting Orders.

How the Court decides parenting orders

The Court will make decisions as to (but not limited to):

    • where a child lives

    • who a child spends time and communicates with

    • whether that time should be supervised or unsupervised

    • decisions about schooling or medical treatment

    • whether the parents can share parental responsibility for long-term decisions, and

    • how the parents will communicate with each other about decisions for the child

When the Court determines an Application for parenting orders, the Court will consider what is the best interests of child, including the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm which is given the highest priority.

Thereafter, the Court will consider the benefit to the child in having a meaningful relationship with both parents and whether the parents should have ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ for long-term decisions about a child or ‘sole parental responsibility’.

There are a range of other additional factors that the Court will consider, including but not limited to, if a family violence order applies or has applied to the child or a member of the family.

The Court’s process

Generally, the Court’s process is as follows:

  1. The Application for Parenting Orders is prepared and filed in Court. There are several documents to be prepared here.

  2. When you receive the sealed court documents, the Court will provide an allocated first return date. Reserve this date as you will need to attend court personally.

  3. You will need to serve the other parent with the sealed documents. Thereafter, the other parent will need to file Response documents.

  4. On this first appearance date, the Court will consider making preliminary orders (Interim Orders).

  5. If the parents are in dispute about the care of the child, the Court will likely make orders for a Section 11F report (for more immediate matters) or a Family Report. Both parents will be interviewed separately and each together with the child.  Other relevant persons may be interviewed by the family consultant too.

  6. Once this Family Report is complete, there will usually be a mention before the Court and the Court will reconsider the Interim Orders in view of the recommendations made by the Family Reporter.

  7. If the parties remain in dispute as to parenting arrangements, the matter will be set down for a Trial.

  8. Trial.

Family law matters involving children and domestic violence can be complex and we suggest that you obtain advice from an experienced family lawyer before filing an Application for Parenting Orders.

  • We won’t drag it out, we’ll sort it out and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

    Take the first step and Call Us for a Free Consultation.