Children and Separation, Protecting You and Your Children
Erin Smyth | 04 June, 2011
Wanting your child or children to maintain a relationship with your ex partner or spouse once you have separated can be difficult for mothers. If the separation is not amicable then the problems can multiply and many mothers may have fears for the children’s welfare when with the other parent. These fears can include children not being returned to their care as expected or that the other parent may not be able to handle or adequately care for the children when with them. Such fears can either be real or imaginary.
So how can these fears be eased? How can both parents and the children be provided with certainty as to where the children will be living and when and how they will spend time with each parent? The mechanisms for dealing with these issues can be found in the terms of Consent Orders.
Consent Orders set out matters such as who the children will live with and when they will spend time with the parent who they are not residing with. Consent Orders also set out clearly how the children will spend time with each parent on special occasions such as:
- the children’s birthdays
- the parent’s birthdays
- mothers day and fathers day
- the Christmas period, Easter and
- New Years Eve and Day
Consent Orders also deal with how the children will spend time with their parents during school holidays and how that is to be managed. Consent Orders can also place conditions on the parents if they want to travel interstate or overseas with the children. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, providing an itinerary, flight/bus or train numbers and contact details no less than 14 days prior to travelling. The times parents can communicate with the children by telephone when they are not in their care can also be set out in a Consent Order, as can each parent’s right to attend school interviews and sports days and receive copies of school reports and photographs.
Obtaining a Consent Order is relatively straightforward apart from the fact that both parents must agree or �consent’ to the care arrangement for their children.
The Application form sets out details such as the names, dates of birth and addresses of the parents and the children and also details of the parents relationship such as when it commenced, when they were married (if applicable) and when they separated or divorced (if applicable). The Minutes of Order is the document that sets out the agreement reached between the parents regarding the children will live with and how the children will spend time with the parent that they don’t live with and must be certified by each party’s respective legal advisor.
The documents are then filed in the Family Court. A filing fee, currently $80.00 is payable. Filing the documents in Court does not mean that the parents have to actually go to Court. The documents are given to a Family Court Registrar who is the person that considers the documents and ensures that the care arrangement that the parents is in the best interests of the children. If the Registrar is satisfied with the agreement reached between the parents and the documents then they are sent back to the lawyers as a legally binding Court Order which is then forwarded by each respective lawyer to their parent/client.
Once a Court Order is made the parents rights as to their time with the children are better protected and legal consequences result if a parent breaches a term of the Order (such as not returning the children once their time with them has concluded).
Consent Orders are therefore very useful documents that contain mechanisms for the parent’s arrangements with regard to their children and should assist in eliminating disagreements or misunderstandings.
Erin Smyth is a Lawyer at Camatta Lempens Adelaide who specializes in Family Law matters and de facto matters