You can’t agree on parenting arrangements

It is not uncommon for separating parents to disagree on parenting arrangements which include the ongoing living arrangements (custody) and care of their children.

Whether you have recently separated, have been separated for some time or are divorced, parents often disagree about parenting arrangements. Disputes occur over:

  • the amount of time the children spend with each parent
  • the ongoing contact made by each parent
  • special time such as Christmas, birthdays and school holidays
  • who is responsible for decisions such as education, religion and health
  • one parent wants to move interstate or overseas
  • more complex issues such as domestic and family violence.

You may have agreed previously and circumstances have changed. You may have resolved your financial issues, but continue to have differences on the care of the children. Sometimes, grandparents and other relatives are also involved in these disputes.

No matter what your situation, you may find you need highly-skilled, immediate legal advice to help you work through your uniquely complex differences.

With knowledge of the law and the practical know-how to apply it, your Jones Mitchell family lawyer will work with you to identify the most appropriate approach to resolve your differences quickly – whether it is negotiation or specific alternate dispute resolution approaches such as mediationarbitration, or early neutral evaluation; or in suitable cases a collaborative law approach. Only if necessary and when all other approaches are exhausted or inappropriate would we use our litigation experience and resources and go to court.

We will listen to your individual situation, and no matter how straight forward or complex, navigate you through the maze of legal requirements including parenting plans, consent orders, parenting orders, and child support agreements.

If conflict and emotions are high, you may find it more difficult to make important decisions and effectively problem solve. Children are particularly vulnerable and they can experience extreme stress if parents are unable to resolve conflict. During these times, we recommend you see a psychologist or relationships counsellor. Talk to your Jones Mitchell family lawyer if you would like a recommendation.

Case study – Rhys, 32, wants to see his son more

Rhys is a dentist and has been separated for six months. He has a two year old son, Harry, who has recently stopped breastfeeding. Since separating, he only sees his son during the day on the weekend. His ex-partner has not allowed him to keep Harry overnight, saying that he is ‘too young’. He really wants to have a strong relationship with Harry, but is feeling that day contact is not enough.

Rhys is not sure of his rights. He’s heard lots of different stories – some dads have their kids for 50 per cent of the time, while others hardly get to see them at all. He has a comfortable unit and can be flexible with his work. He thinks it would be perfectly fine for Harry to spend some nights with him.

Referred by a friend who was a past client of Jones Mitchell, Rhys met with a Jones Mitchell family lawyer. They first discussed the history of the situation, the current care arrangements, and his work commitments. They discussed the possibility of obtaining a family report by social workers or psychologists to provide an independent assessment of what was best for Harry.  After gathering the necessary information, Jones Mitchell gave Rhys advice about the legal framework and what a court would most likely decide. They discussed several approaches to resolving the problem and recommended that private mediation may work best for him and his ex-partner.

With a professional, well-thought out, and well-executed plan, Jones Mitchell was able to obtain buy-in from Rhys’s ex-partner about care arrangements for Harry. Slowly they were able to work towards a progressive increase in care that both were comfortable with and that was in Harry’s best interests. After these care arrangements were sorted, Jones Mitchell encouraged Rhys to finalise his financial separation from his ex-partner and ensure Harry was well-supported.

If you can’t agree on parenting arrangements and would like more information, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.

Please note: Although this case study is based on a potentially real situation, it is hypothetical and is for illustrative purposes only. Every family law situation is unique. Consequently, our family law advice is tailored to each situation and individual outcomes will vary.