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Custody Lawyers Gold Coast

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Children are the most important party in family law matters. Whatever your circumstances, we can provide advice on how to move forward with your life while keeping the best interests of your children paramount.

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Family Law and Children

When parents of a child (or adopted child) or children under 18 separate, they will generally both have an equal parental responsibility for the child unless a Court Order states otherwise.

It is important to distinguish however, between:

  1. equal shared parental responsibility; or
  2. equal time with the child.

Best interests of the child

Whatever your situation, the law aims to protect children in two ways:

  1. Ensure that children enjoy a meaningful relationship with both of their parents; and
  2. Ensure that children are protected from harm.

Equal shared parental responsibility

Equal shared parental responsibility is the presumption that both parents will have a role in making decisions about major long-term issues, for example:

  • where a child goes to school;
  • treatment for major health issues.

This presumption may be quickly rebutted in instances where a parent has been violent or abusive. The key here is to understand the impact of the situation on the child and whether a parent is at risk of harming the child, either physically or emotionally.

Equal shared time

Equal shared time is available to parents when:

  1. they can agree to this arrangement; or
  2. a court finds that equal time is in the best interests of the child and is the most suitable arrangement.

Equal shared time is usually on a week about or fortnightly schedule where parents can pick up/drop off children at school, day care, sport, public place etc.

Family Dispute Resolution

Unless there is an urgent risk of harm to the children, such as abuse or abduction, each party must make a genuine effort to resolve disputes before filing Court Proceedings.

The parties will need to book a FDR conciliation conference and make a ‘genuine effort’ with the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to resolve the children’s issues. The effort should be one that is realistically directed at resolving the issues that are the subject of the application to a court.

After the conference, a Section 60I certificates will be issued to each of the parties indicating one of the following:

  1. one party refused to attend;
  2. one party did not attend because the practitioner did not consider it would be appropriate;
  3. the parties attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the issue;
  4. the parties attended but one or more of them did not make a genuine effort to resolve the issues in dispute; or
  5. the parties started the conference, but part way through the practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue.

The Court in some instances may award costs against a party based on their failure to attend or make a genuine effort.

Once a section 60I certificate has been issued, the parties may file proceedings in Court to have matters finalised.

At Clarity Legal Group our team are highly experienced in court and non-court parenting arrangements in Family Law. We can guide you through the process and help you to achieve the best outcome for your children.

Contact us today on 07 5562 0444 or send an email to or you can get started online by clicking here.

Frequently asked questions

A divorce is a Court Order that severs your marriage.

You do not need to prove that a person was at fault, but there are several factors that must be adhered to in order to be eligible for a divorce.

  1. You and your spouse must have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months (Note: it is possible to live together in the same home and still be separated).
  2. There must be no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life.

It is important to note that a divorce will not determine issues of financial support, property distribution or arrangements for children. It simply recognises that the marriage has ended.

Once a divorce has been obtained, you have 12 months to finalise a property settlement.

There is a filing fee for divorce applications which can be accessed here.

A reduced fee may be available for you as a concession card holder or couples who are experiencing financial hardship.

Read more here.

Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to stop a divorce these days. Fault or no-fault, one party can apply to sever the marriage if they want to.

You can only dispute the divorce where:

it has been less than 12 months since separation; or
it is filed in the wrong state or Courthouse.

You do not need to attend the hearing. If you disagree or object to the facts of the divorce documents, you may file a response to the Court within 28 days of being served with the divorce documents. However, the Court may still decide to grant a Divorce Order despite your objections unless there is a mistake in law.

✘ NO – If there are no children under the age of 18.

✘ NO – if there are children under the age of 18 and you have made a joint application.

✓ YES – if there is a child under the age of 18 and you lodged a sole application, you need to attend.

If it is difficult for you to attend in person, you may ask the Court to appear by telephone.

A divorce order takes effect one month and one day after the divorce is granted.

It is possible for you and your spouse to be separated but to continue living in the same home during the 12 months before applying for divorce. This is known as ‘separation under the one roof’. If this applies to your situation, you need to prove to the Court that you were separated during this time.

You need to have been married for at least 2 years and separated for 12 months before you can apply for a divorce. The time starts from the date of your marriage to the date you file your application. If you have been married less than 2 years, you can still apply for a divorce if you have a counsellor’s certificate to verify that the relationship is irreconcilable.

Arbon Legal Group are always providing comprehensive legal help to the people of the Gold Coast community. If you require further information or legal assistance in relation to your separation or divorce please contact Arbon Legal Group on 07 5562 0444 or email

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