What impact will separation have on the children?

June 1, 2015

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports that in 2013 the average age of males who had filed for a divorce was 44.8 years, while the average age of females was 42.2 years. At this stage in a relationship, it is often the case that couples have children who will inevitably be witness to the separation process.

It has been proven that any short or long term form of parental separation can have devastating effects upon children to the relationship. Amongst the many adverse effects that a child may be subject to, they may often feel a sense of confusion and instability. Routines and order are important to a child’s development and with the withdrawal of a parent from the family dynamic; the stability that once was present is removed. Children often are unaware that their parent’s marriage is under distress and become accustomed to living with both parents under the one household. Unfortunately, children may tend to feel a sense of distrust towards a particular parent who may be the blame of a martial breakdown. Sadly, cases exist where children may develop thoughts that they are the cause of their parent’s separation. Accordingly, it is imperative that during separation, children are given the necessary attention and opportunity to express their feelings about the particular situation. The impact of separation upon a child can be overwhelming and it is important that any course of action is taken in light of the interests of any children.
It is reassuring that Australian Family Law assists with parenting arrangements and holds the well-being of children in the highest possible regard. The legislation also ensures that considerations are made towards the readjustment that parents will need to make in order to care for their children post separation; often parents are ordered by the Court to complete courses to equip them to do so. In addition the Family Law Act mandates that the Court be satisfied that proper arrangements in all the circumstances have been made for the care, welfare and development of children. In the instance that parents are unable to decide on a parenting arrangement post separation, either parent can make an application to the Courts for orders to be made. However, prior to doing so, the Family Law Act advocates for a non-adversarial approach and requires parents to make a genuine effort to resolve their matter through family dispute resolution. A parenting order can be made by the Court and deal with a number of issues such as who children will live with, child maintenance arrangements or any other aspect relating to their welfare. In order for this process to commence, an application for a parenting order must be filed with either Family Court of Australia (complex matters) or the Federal Circuit Court.

This can be a difficult process and it is often recommended that legal advice is sought prior to completing an initiating application.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general overview of the subject matter and is not be relied upon as giving legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.