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Who will the children live with? How are parental responsibilities shared?

Parents should agree about parenting arrangements for their children. Parents can, If they wish, make a parenting plan or have Orders made by consent with respect to the arrangements for their children. If you and your spouse cannot agree about arrangements for the children you will need legal advice.

You should contact a Family Relationships Centre initially for assistance in counselling, mediation and conciliation of any issues between you and your former partners about your children. The Family Relationships Centre’s number is 1800 050 321.

The sooner you can reach agreement the sooner things will settle down. From July 2006 Family Relationships Centres began opening throughout Australia offering information to separating couples. Agreement can best be reached using negotiation, counselling, mediation or conciliation.

There are other organisations that offer counselling services such as Relationships
Australia and Unifam.

In determining what is in the best interests of a child, the two primary considerations are the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents and the need to protect the child from physical or psychological
harm arising from abuse, neglect or family violence. Additional considerations include the age, sex and maturity of the child, views expressed by the child, the relationship of the child with each parent and other relatives, the likely effect of separation for the child, the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a
continuing relationship between the child and the other parent, distance and travel difficulties, the capacity of the carer, the culture, background and lifestyle of the child and carers, their attitude to the child and the responsibilities of parenthood, and any family violence involving the child.

Parents must now consider if it is reasonably practicable and in the best interests of the child for the child to spend equal time with each parent, or substantial and significant time with each parent or other relative. Parents should also make joint decisions in consultation with each other on matters such as education, religious and cultural upbringing, the child’s health, the child’s name and changes to the child’s living arrangements.

If the children do not live with you, you should discuss arrangements for them to spend time with and have communication with you.