Separation from a husband/wife or long term de facto partner can be one of the most stressful and traumatic events in a person’s life, and this stress and trauma can be compounded or amplified if there are children involved.

When there are children involved, it is extremely important that parties remain child focused and do not let their separation negatively impact or affect their children any more than necessary.  Children often mistakenly feel responsible for their parent’s separation and depending on their ages, they often do not have the emotional maturity to deal with an acrimonious situation between their parents.

Although difficult, it is important for each parent to realise that their conduct can (and often does) significantly impact on their child or children, and steps should be taken by both parties to maintain some semblance of a normal, rational relationship for the sake of the children. 

This means that the parties should take into account all of the particular circumstances when determining the time the child will spend with each of them, including factors such as the child’s age, developmental and specific needs, the practicality of the arrangements and ability for each parent to supervise the child, and, as much as is possible, the child’s routine should be kept as similar to their routine prior to separation.

Parents should also refrain from making derogatory or negative comments about the other parent in front of the children, including off-hand comments ascribing blame to the other parent such as ‘we are going to lose our house because of your mother/father’ or ‘I wish I could spend more time with you but your mother/father won’t let me’.  These comments can severely undermine and damage a child’s relationship with their parent/s, and these effects can remain present for a significant period of time.

Behaviour towards each other at changeovers for the child should also be considered by both parents, to ensure that no unnecessary tension occurs which can unsettle the child and affect their time spent with that parent.

If the parties are unable to agree on arrangements for the children after separation then an application may need to be made to the Court for formal orders Court.  Children’s matters are not ‘one size fits all’ and can often be complex.  When determining children’s arrangements, the Court will have regard to Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), and the numerous factors outlined in section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and will make orders based on what it considers is the best interests of the child.

We strongly recommend that if you are separating, or have recently separated, that you contact one of the experienced and professional family lawyers at Affinity Lawyers on the Gold Coast on 5563 8970 to discuss your rights, obligations and options in respect of property and children’s matters.