Children and Family Law – Frequently Asked Questions

This area of our site deals with frequently asked child related Family Law questions. This area of our site will be added to on a regular basis (as will our Articles section) please feel free to bookmark this page.

Changing a Child’s School

The decision involving where a child is to be educated, is what the law refers to as, a decision that relates to the ” long term welfare and development” of a child. As such, unless a parent has a Court Order, providing them “sole” power to make ” long term” decisions, it is expected that parents will endeavour to make such decisions jointly.
Where a dispute arises between parents, as to where a child is to attend school, it can be a complicated matter to resolve, and involves the Court taking into account a variety of factors. Some of the factors that will need to be considered, will include cost, religion, location, education level and the child’s wishes. As with any decision that relates to a child, the law provides that the paramount consideration is what is in the child’s best interests.

How Do I Change My Child’s Name?

One issue which can cause significant stress to both the parents and children, is the issue of the child’s surname; should it be changed and if so, in what way ?

There are a range of issues the Court will consider in such an application:

  • Whether the child is spending time with both parents;
  • Has one of the parents changed their surname ( e.g. a parent changing back to their maiden or re-marrying );
  • The impact that either changing a child’s surname, or leaving it as is, will have upon the child’s sense of identity; and
  • Will it cause unnecessary embarrassment and stress to the child, to leave it as is or change it ?

As in all decisions with regard to children, the child’s best interest will always be the Court’s paramount consideration.

Contravention ( Breaching ) of Parenting Orders

If a parent fails to comply with or breaches a Parenting Order,  it is known as “contravening” an Order. If you have a Parenting Plan this option is not available to you.

If you are the parent suffering as a result of another parent’s ‘contravention’ you can enforce the Order by making an Application to the Court, seeking the Court deal with the contravening parent.

The remedies available from a Court range from the enforcement of an Order to the punishment of a person for failure to obey an Order. The remedy will vary depending on the severity of the contravention.

Orders that Court can make, amongst others, are:

  • ensure the resumption of the arrangements set out in an earlier Order;
  • compensate a parent for time lost with a child;
  • varies an existing Order;
  • Order the parent to pay all or some of the legal costs of the other party.

Section 60I Certificates (Mediation)

A Section 60I Certificate, is a certificate that is issued, if parties have engaged in mediation counseling and are unsuccessful in arriving at a resolution, or if one party has refused to attend.

In 2006 reforms were introduced to Family Law child related disputes. These reforms were intended to assist in making disputes between parents, over children, less acrimonious. Significant resources were invested in counseling and mediation, for parties to reach agreement, rather than resort to litigation in the Family Court.

Now, the first step, in Family Law child related disputes, is mediation, with the assistance of qualified mediators ( commonly known as family consultants), located in Family Relationship Centers and other centers, such as Relationships Australia , throughout Australia. You can also choose to engage private mediators.

In normal circumstances you may not commence child related court proceedings ( litigation) unless a family consultant has issued a Section 60I Certificate. A copy of the section 60I Certificate must be attached to the documents you file with the Court.

Exception to Section 60I Certificates

Only in exceptional cases, requiring urgency e.g. domestic violence, child abuse, can child related court proceedings be commenced without the need to attend mediation.

If you require Family Law advice or assistance call today on (03) 59757611 or Enquire Online to arrange your initial Family Law consultation.

You can also find further information in our : Children and Family Law, Family Law Property – Frequently Asked Questions, Family Law Property, Divorce, Child Support and our Articles sections.