Children and family law

The Family Law Act deals with most matters relating to a child’s welfare when a relationship ends, whether it’s a marriage, de facto or same sex relationship.

Legislation no longer talks about a parent’s rights:  the ultimate consideration is what is in the child’s best interests. Each case is determined on its own facts and circumstances.

Many parents can sort out matters relating to their children between themselves. However, some parents need legal help, or may need to go to court to settle disputes.

Our lawyers have substantial experience in resolving parenting and children’s issues.  We can provide you with advice and support on decisions like:-

  • who your child should live with;
  • what contact your child may have with the other parent, or how living arrangements are shared;
  • who has responsibility for making decisions about issues such as which school your child attends;
  • in some cases, who actually is a “parent”.

Parenting orders, issued by a court, can deal with these issues and regulate arrangements for children. However, as a parent you are not allowed to start court proceedings until you have tried to reach an agreement with the assistance of a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP), except in special circumstances.

Proceedings for obtaining parenting orders can be commenced in either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court. The procedure in each court varies, and which court is appropriate for your case will depend on the complexity of the issues in dispute, which court is able to deal with it more quickly in cases of urgency, and which court services your area.

Child Support

Although child support is not a matter that is usually litigated in our Family Courts, it is a common issue that arises within the context of a separation. 

The process of ascertaining your child support payments is determined by the Department of Human Services (Child Support).  Parents can apply for an assessment by making an Application here.

The online assessment application will assess your eligibility for child support. Applications can also be made by telephone on 131 272.  In some situations, if the parentage of a person is in doubt or unknown, it may be necessary to establish the relevant parentage of the person. 

Once an application has been submitted, an assessment is made using a formula that considers (among other considerations) the taxable income of each parent, and the number of nights that each parent spends with the child/children.  The Department  can be asked to collect the child support payments for a parent, or it can be paid directly. 

If you would like an estimate of the likely child support you will receive/pay, you can also use the online child support calculator. 

The calculator is an estimate only and proper assessments are undertaken through the Department. 

An assessment of child support can be changed for many reasons, one being if your income changes or if the income of your ex-partner changes. A change of assessment can also occur if care arrangements change.  There are a number of reasons to change an assessment, as to which you can go to the Department’s website.

A parent can also object to a child support decision through the Child Support Registrar and generally must do so in writing, within 28 days of the receipt of a decision.  If the objection is refused, the objection can then be appealed through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).  The Federal Circuit Court can hear an appeal against a decision of the AAT.

Should you require assistance in relation to child support, Dimocks Family Lawyers can assist you.  Book an initial conference today.


Contact us for answers to your family law issues.

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