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Parenting Disputes

At Culshaw Bishop Lawyers, we understand that the breakdown of a relationship can be a stressful time for any individual – especially where children are involved. At times it can be difficult to negotiate parenting arrangements particularly when conflicting parenting styles and views exist, or there is a particularly uncooperative parent. We understand that due to the individual circumstances of each situation, parenting disputes may arise. Our experienced family lawyers will provide you tailored legal advice and guidance on how to proceed.

What are parenting disputes?

Parenting disputes are circumstances in which parents cannot come to an agreement on matters relating to their children or issues involving parental responsibility.

How Culshaw Bishop Lawyers can help you

Our divorce and separation lawyers can provide advice on the following areas:

  • Time spending arrangements (which can include, in circumstances of family violence, safety risks to the child, drug and alcohol use, and mental health concerns)
  • Recovery Orders
  • Contravention matters
  • School enrolments
  • Parental child abduction, including:
    • Hague Convention matters
    • Placing a child on the Airport Watch List
  • Relocation matters
  • Applications to vary or amend Court Orders
  • Appeals
  • Child support matters
  • Grandparent’s rights

What factors are considered during a parenting dispute?

Parental responsibility

In the absence of a Court Order, parents are jointly responsible for making all long-term decisions relating to the child’s care, welfare, and development. Education, medical treatment, religious denomination, and the like fall within those long-term decisions regarding a child. Our experienced family dispute lawyers are able to advise you in circumstances where one parent makes unilateral long-term decisions for the child.

Best interests of the child

In litigated matters, the primary consideration of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia is the best interests of the child. In reaching this assessment, the court must carefully consider the benefit to the child of enjoying a meaningful relationship with both parents vs protection of the child from psychological and physical harm.

Financial responsibility for the child/ren

Regardless of who the child lives with, both parents have a duty to support their child financially after separation. Each financial situation is unique and in order to ensure both parents are sharing the cost of raising the children, child support becomes a part of the arrangement. The cost of child support can differ depending on many factors including:

  • How much income a parent earns, 
  • How many children they have
  • How old the children are; and
  •  The amount of time the children spent with each parent

Family Dispute Resolution

In the event that parents are unable to reach an agreement in respect to time-spending, or lives-with arrangements, parents are required to participate in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). FDR is a compulsory form of mediation that must be undertaken prior to applying to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for parenting orders.

FDR may be considered inappropriate in circumstances whereby the matter is urgent, it poses a risk of physical or psychological harm to a parent, or the child is being abused or at risk of being abused. FDR is provided by a number of organisations for a nominal fee.

In some circumstances, FDR can be undertaken on a private basis with lawyers present.

If a party does not attend FDR or FDR is unsuccessful, the parties will receive a section 60i Certificate. This certificate allows either party to apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for parenting orders.

Save for circumstances where a child is at risk of psychological or physical harm, family law court proceedings should generally be considered the last resort when it comes to parenting disputes. It is preferred that the parties can reach an agreement for their personal circumstances between themselves. 

Our team of experienced parental agreement lawyers will help you reach an agreement regarding your children that will allow you to co-parent effectively beyond separation.

Consent Orders

If the parties are able to reach an agreed position, a Consent Order can set out the agreement reached between the parties. A Consent Order is filed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and is scrutinised by a Judicial Officer to ensure the best interests of the child are met.

Litigation in the Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia

Sadly, the intervention of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia is often required when parties are simply unable to reach an agreed position regarding the care of the children.

Whilst it is our preference to settle matters without litigation, our experienced team of lawyers has significant experience in court proceedings, including trials.

Get in touch with our parenting dispute lawyers


Culshaw Bishop Lawyers

  • 08 8464 0033
  • 49 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, South Australia 5000


Culshaw Miller Lawyers

  • 08 9488 1300
  • Level 8, 233 Adelaide Terrace, Perth, Western Australia 6000


Culshaw Miller Badenoch Lawyers

  • 03 9999 1588
  • Ground Floor, 501 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000