Parenting arrangements

When a relationship ends, irrespective of whether the parties are married or not – the law expects parents to place the best interests of their children ahead of their own and agree on parenting arrangements that enable the children to spend substantial time with both parents. The exception to this general rule is where the children would be at risk of harm or where it would not be reasonably practicable for such arrangements to occur.

Family law lawyers in Ballarat

At Cargill Family Law, we have the expertise and experience to provide you with clear advice as to what parenting orders the Court would be likely to make in all of the circumstances of your case and to guide you through the process – which may be as simple as assisting you to negotiate a parenting plan with your ex-partner.

In the event that the circumstances of your case justify the commencement of legal proceedings, we will work tirelessly to ensure that all important evidence is put before the Court and will advocate strenuously on your behalf to ensure that the best interests and safety of your children are safeguarded.

family law lawyers ballarat

How Cargill Family Law can assist you with your parenting arrangement

Our parenting arrangement service is available in Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh, Melbourne, and surrounds. We can help with:

  • Clear advice about what your legal rights and obligations are

  • Guidance as to what parenting orders the court would be likely to make in all of the circumstances

  • Negotiate parenting arrangements on your behalf – that are in the best interests of the children concerned and are logistically practical
  • Draft a detailed parenting plan or draft parenting orders and the required court paperwork once an agreement has been reached
  • Prepare the necessary court documents to commence legal proceedings in the event that it is not possible to resolve your parenting dispute outside court
  • Oversee the process of obtaining all necessary expert evidence – such as a family consultant report and medical reports
  • Ensure that all important evidence is put before the Court and make any necessary applications to make sure that this occurs

  • Advocate strenuously on your behalf to ensure that appropriate parenting orders are made.

Rachel was knowledgeable, efficient and extraordinarily caring.

“Rachel’s support, assistance and counsel has been invaluable to me. Rachel was amazingly organised, knowledgeable, efficient and extraordinarily caring. Everything was explained to me with patience and understanding. Emotional support was always forthcoming and I have appreciated her gentle and compassionate manner with all that I dealt with.

She was diligent in all that she did and readily available via email, phone or text. Thank you Rachel, for being with me through a very traumatic life changing time. I honestly cannot recommend Rachel enough to anyone experienced the stress of divorce.”

– Paula, Brisbane

Rachel made me feel very comfortable throughout the process

“Rachel made me feel very comfortable throughout the process due to her genuineness and warm approach. I had some trepidation with how this process was going to go prior. That feeling changed the moment we had our first meeting. She really cares and looks after her clients and gets the results they are after and it shines through. Rachel answered all the questions I had in a timely manner and covered all angles so I didn’t feel like I was unprepared or ill-informed during the process. It was a pleasure having her represent me.”

–  Justin, Melbourne

Parenting arrangement FAQs

The majority of separated parents work out how they will co-parent their children after separation themselves. It is however a good idea to speak with a family lawyer before signing a parenting plan to ensure that the parenting arrangement reached is in the children’s best interests and is practical. If you are having trouble finalising a parenting plan, it may be worth considering Family Dispute Resolution (see Q&A below).

A parenting plan is simply a written agreement between two separated parents concerning the ongoing care of their children – that has been signed and dated by both parents. Parenting plans may be brief or very detailed and can be changed by consent over the course of time to accommodate the changing needs of the children involved.

Parenting plans will usually set out a timetable covering the amount of time that the children spend with each parent during school term, school holidays and on special occasions. Parenting plans can also set out the process for making all major decisions concerning the children such as: what school they will attend, what religion they will identify with, what medical treatment they will have etc.

Whilst parenting plans are not legally enforceable – they may be taken into account by a court in the event of a dispute in the future. As such, you should not sign a parenting plan which you genuinely believe is not in the best interests of your children – or is logistically very difficult to follow on a long-term basis.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is an informal mediation between two separated parents before a trained mediator. The purpose of FDR is for the parents to reach an agreement concerning the ongoing care of their children. These services are offered by a number of community organisations and private mediators / family lawyers. Such services are provided to assist parents to iron out any areas of disagreement concerning the ongoing care of their children.

Prior to attending FDR, the parties will usually be required to attend an information session (at separate times) for the purpose of being educated about the importance of co-parenting constructively and without conflict.

The Family Law Act requires parents to attempt FDR before commencing family law proceedings. Exceptions will be made if the matter was deemed unsuitable for FDR (usually as a result of family violence) or in the event of urgency.

Find out more about how we can assist you prepare for your Family Dispute Resolution conference.

Many parents simply enter into a parenting plan – which is often all that is needed. A parenting plan is simply a written document that sets out parenting arrangements that is dated and signed by both parents.

In some cases, formalising the parenting agreement reached by obtaining parenting orders by consent from the Family Court can be a good idea.

Parenting orders tend to work well in circumstances where the parties find ongoing communication difficult and would prefer a detailed set of enforceable orders that covers all aspects of the ongoing care of the children.

Obtaining parenting orders involves submitting a detailed application alongside a proposed set of parenting orders to the Family Court (accompanied by the completed Court form: ‘Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk’). Parenting orders are usually drafted by a family lawyer.

In the event that a Registrar of the Family Court is satisfied that the proposed parenting orders are (1) safe; (2) in the best interests of the children; and (3) are practical – the orders will usually be made.

Get in touch for a free 30-minute consultation