The Hon Mr Justice Wood

The Hon Mr Justice Wood

 

“You can’t hug Skype.”

This was the argument that won a father the right to keep his son in England. His ex-wife wanted to relocate to Hong Kong, taking their son with her, arguing that they could keep in touch using Skype.

But the boy’s father argued that visiting Hong Kong to see his son was impractical and that keeping touch via the Internet didn’t make up for the lack of physical connection.

High Court Judge Roderic Wood agreed, adding that he didn’t trust that the mother would keep to her commitments. He went on to add that the father had built a close and profound relationship with his son and that phone calls and Internet contact would not make up for the physical loss.

He also believed that the mother would not adhere to any regime the court set, and that over time any regime would collapse.

Perhaps the most revealing comments Justice Wood made regarding how courts interpret child custody arguments are as follows: “It is the mother’s inability to recognise in any real way the value to [the child] of having his father in his life and to facilitate and encourage it which leads me to find that in reality she would let [the child’s] opportunities for continuing and developing his relationship with his father wither or even cease abruptly.”

The law in England and Australia are similar in that the court recognises the importance of a child having both parents in their lives. In Australia, a parent who wishes to move with their child/ren interstate or internationally must obtain the consent of the other parents, or obtain a court order.

How do we decide on parenting arrangements?

You can decide on the care of your children in three ways:

  • A verbal agreement
  • A written agreement, or parenting plan, that is not enforceable by law
  • A consent order, which is written, signed and filed with the court

A parenting plan and a consent order will cover the responsibilities of parents and carers. It might cover where the child/ren will live, who they are to spend time with and communicate with, and other issues such as schooling or medical treatment.

The court will make any decision about the care of children based on the child’s best interests. These include:

  • Protection from harm
  • Meaningful involvement from both parents
  • Shared parental responsibility over the long term
  • The responsibility for financial support of the child
  • How disputes are to be solved

You can only apply for a consent order if all attempts to agree on a parenting plan have failed. Family dispute resolution is encouraged by the courts to resolve disagreements and make arrangements for the future. You cannot apply to the court for a consent order unless you have included a certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner with your application.

At Divorce Lawyers Brisbane, we encourage our clients to resolve any disagreements before going to court. If you need advice or assistance, contact our experienced family lawyers today!