It is not easy being a single parent. There are of course the many joys and rewards in parenthood. And there are many wonderful single parents doing a great job in raising happy, healthy children. But the challenges of caring for children and providing for their financial needs are often more difficult in single parent households. The situation can be made worse if one parent is in a constant battle with the other parent over family law issues.
So it is important to try to create a relationship of trust and cooperation, and a willingness to resolve problems and disputes at an early stage as they arise, especially with co-parenting arrangement with the other parent.
Unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as where there are issues of violence and intimidation), the other parent should be given every opportunity to participate substantially, or even equally, in the care of their children if they wish to do so. This is particularly the case as the children grow older. Family Relationship Centres and other mediation organisations can provide a great deal of assistance and support to parents in establishing parenting agreements for the benefit of their children.
Responsible parents usually recognise the need to contribute fairly towards their children’s expenses. In cases where one parent has a higher income than the other and where a child is spending more nights with the other parent, this means paying child support in accordance with an administrative assessment done by the Child Support Agency (CSA). The CSA provide a great deal of assistance, information and support to both parents in understanding their entitlements and obligations and in arranging the payment of child support in accordance with the Family Law Act. Parents may also need to help with education and health expenses of children.
The division of property between parents can often be an issue of conflict and may complicate the parties’ attempts otherwise to work out cooperative agreements. But single parents must assert their rights and be proactive in pursuing a fair property settlement. Sensible parents will get good advice and understand their rights and obligations under the Family Law Act and enter into mediation to resolve property settlements in a fair way.
Fortunately there are a great deal of resources available in the community to assist single parents. Where problems arise, legal assistance is available from the Legal Aid Office and other institutions. It is vital to obtain good legal advice and assistance at an early stage. Family Law solicitors will often provide a great deal of information and support and tailor legal solutions in a way to make the arrangements available and affordable to single parents and assist them come to the best possible solutions and resolutions of their family law issues.