Interim and final hearings for childrens matters
In certain cases where mediation and dispute resolution has failed, a parent will need to file an Application in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court, regarding the children and where they should live. Generally, you will receive an Interim Hearing date within 3 months of filing your application. The Judge will read your filed affidavit material and hear submissions from each party. A decision is then made about what should happen until the final hearing.
In certain cases, an Independent Lawyer will be appointed to represent the children and/or a Family Report commissioned by a social worker/psychologist who will meet the parties and make recommendations to the Court about the matter.
The interim parenting arrangements stay in place until the final hearing which will be up to a year after the interim hearing. At the final hearing, parties are cross examined before a Judge, and all evidence in the form of Family Reports, medical reports, or material issued under subpoena ( eg Police files, DOCS files) are available to the Judge.
Final orders made by the Judge will last until the child turns 18 years of age. Many of our clients ask “When can the child decide where he/she wants to live”. There is no “golden age” in law, but given what Section 60CC tells us about how a Judge determines what is in a childs best interest, the childs expressed wishes are considered, but so is the childs age, level of maturity and other factors such as their existing relationship with the parent.
The emphasis of the Court is to maintain and preserve a childs relationship with both parents, such that if a 10 year old child is reluctant to spend time with a parent, the Court will want to know why, and recommend through therapy, steps to try to repair the relationship. However, by the age of 14, it is in our experience common for a Judge to express to the parents in Court that if therapy has failed, given the childs age and state of maturity, the wishes of a child take paramountcy. Every matter is different, so please feel free to contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.
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