Marguerite Picard Blog

Hi and welcome to my blog.

This blog is a free resource for you with the aim to educate and express opinions about collaborative family law, divorce, separation and child custody. All articles are informative and are up to date with current practices. Please enjoy reading and take care of yourself. - Marguerite.


Divorce Applications and Proper Arrangements for Children

Divorce Applications and Proper Arrangements for Children

outdated legal system

In Australia, it is a requirement for Divorce that proper arrangements have been made for any children of the marriage. A Divorce Application asks questions about the living arrangements, health and education of the children.

We could now do away with these questions.

Recognition of the importance of children’s care and support in separation is universal. We all know that comes from parents agreeing to formal or informal parenting plans, and generally trying to act like the grown-ups. It comes from making sure that proper financial support is provided for their children, one way or another.

But, the goal of ensuring that has never, and will never, be satisfied by answering brief and largely superficial questions in a Divorce application. The required information is to assess for proper arrangements, to ensure children’s wellbeing. But this pays lip service to children’s wellbeing, and little more. No real enquiry is made about the children, beyond the basics, and as long as the parents are in agreement, their assessment is accepted. The outcome is not thoroughly or objectively tested against the goal, so why do we persist?

The timing of an application for Divorce too, means it is at least a year after separation, which is awfully late to be ensuring the housing, child support and emotional care of the children, isn’t it? If the purpose of the “proper arrangements” questions were truly child-focused, it is too little, at least a year too late.

In the age of declining formal marriage, and when same-sex parents still can’t marry, there are many children involved in separations about whom the system asks no questions. Divorce Applications now have a corresponding decline in relevance to “proper arrangements”.

Because there are so many children born of relationships that never require their parents to file a divorce application, there is a large class of children about whom no enquiry is ever made. The only conclusion I can reach is that this creates a separate class of children, which is as unpalatable as it is unintended.

The “proper arrangements” questions are a relic of the fears surrounding the introduction of the no- fault Family Law Act. What we know about divorce, separation and the wellbeing of children has developed, including our understanding that the time for plans about children are immediately before and after separation, and many months or years before their parents decide to make it formal.

Isn’t it time to assign dissolution of marriage to administrative status, and to ensure that the system asks questions about proper arrangements for all children at the time their parents separate?

Why we don’t talk about “Child Custody” in Australia, and how it matters.

Why we don’t talk about “Child Custody” in Australia, and how it matters. If the idea of “custody” reminds you of jail, prisoners or ownership, you’re not alone. If you feel that it’s an uncomfortable word to use about children, so did many other people, and that’s why officially we don’t use “custody” in the context of Australian Family Law… Read more

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Time for You to Leave Kids. We’re Getting Divorced!

Time for You to Leave Kids.  We’re Getting Divorced! Children are grown up at 18 aren’t they? It seems not, for most Australian families. That is if by “grown up” you mean financially independent and living out of home. It is often the case when parents divorce that financial support for their young adult children becomes a hot topic, whether… Read more

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The Court system is set up for people to fight; Is that what you really want?

In Milwaukee, Judge Michael Dwyer advocates mediation, or in other words, he advocates that people stay out of his court room. In my experience, the judges of the Family Court in Australia would agree with him. So there you have it, litigants. Nobody wants you! Judge Dwyer says, “To me, the court system is set up for two people to… Read more

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