Making arrangements work for children
Your children need both of you
Even though you are separating, you are both still parents and you are the most important people in your children’s lives. The best arrangements for the future are those where:
- the children continue to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both their parents and other family members
- both parents continue to share responsibility for their children
- the children live in a safe environment, with no violence or abuse.
What do you need to consider?
When making arrangements for children, you will need to consider:
- whether it is reasonably practical for the children to spend equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent (substantial and significant time includes weekends, school holidays and days other than those)
- how their time will be spent with other significant persons in their lives, such as grandparents and other relatives
- who will look after them after school
- where will they spend holidays
- any other things such as choice of school, health care, sport, or religious matters, and
- how to ensure that the children continue to enjoy their culture
See Sections 61DA and 65DAA of the Family Law Act on these topics.
What arrangements will work?
Every family is different, so the arrangements that work for your family may be different from other families. Try to make arrangements that will work the best for your children.
Establishing a regular routine as early as possible will help the children get used to the arrangements. It is important to develop a clear structure so the children know the routine and what to expect when, but to be flexible when required. Give plenty of notice if you wish to change the routine, for example, for special family occasions. If you wish to take the child out of the area for more than one night, discuss this with the other parent well in advance.
The age of the child is very important in deciding what arrangements will work.
Arrangements may need to change as your children are at different ages and stages.
Me and My Kids, and other booklets
There are booklets that may help separating parents work out the best future arrangements for their children.
The following are available on the Department of Human Services website:
The Department of Social Services are now responsible for the following publications:
You can order by calling 1800 050 009 between 8:30am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays) or download from www.familyrelationships.gov.au.