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Child picking flowers | Case Study on prioritising child's best interests | Seton Family Lawyers | Central Coast Family Lawyer

Case study: Prioritising a child’s best interests

Establishing parenting arrangements that prioritise a child’s best interests and well-being amid parental disputes has its complexities. We share this case study to offer some key insights.

Acting for the applicant mother, Dominique Markwort, Senior Associate at Seton Family Lawyers, navigated a sensitive family law matter. The child had been primarily cared for by the mother since birth, and only post-separation did the father assert his desire for equal parenting time. This situation escalated when the father began to self-implement these arrangements, leading to significant emotional distress and anxiety for the child. Dominique implemented strategies to protect the child’s best interests and manage parental rights and expectations. Read on to learn how Dominique approached the case. 

The Case

This is a family law parenting matter involving a child who was, at the time, 8 years of age. The mother had been the primary carer since the child’s birth and it was only after the parties separated that the father began asserting it was in the child’s best interests to spend equal time with both parents. 

Proceedings were commenced in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia at Newcastle in circumstances where the father essentially began self-implementing equal time arrangements by collecting the child from school without prior agreement. His actions caused significant distress to the child and they began displaying signs of anxiety and reluctance to spend time with the father. As the father refused to engage in discussions with the mother as to what arrangements would be in the child’s best interests, the mother was forced to seek the court’s intervention. 

The Courtroom 

The matter proceeded to an interim hearing before a Senior Judicial Registrar. It was the mother’s position that the child should spend time with the father for 2 nights per fortnight for 3 months, such time to then incrementally increase to 4 nights per fortnight after 6 months. Conversely, the father’s position was for equal time to commence immediately. 

Following a defended interim hearing, orders were made largely in accordance with what the mother was seeking. That is, starting at 2 nights per fortnight and increasing to 4 nights per fortnight within 6 months. 

The Outcome 

The successful interim hearing outcome was crucial to create the appropriate framework for a positive final outcome that represented the child’s best interests. If equal time were ordered on an interim basis, this would have significantly increased the father’s prospects of equal time being ordered on a final basis. Dominique provided exceptional advocacy for her client, and her child, and achieved an ideal result to protect the child’s best interests, and wishes. 

Do you need help protecting your family? 

Did you know there are important changes to family law happening soon? With the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 recently passing on 19 October 2023, changes will occur on 6 May 2024. Click to read our article here, to learn more about these changes and how they may impact your family. 

Seton Family Lawyers can help you through your separation or divorce and understand your child’s legal rights. Our experienced team is here to provide you with the right information, guidance and support. Contact Seton Family Lawyers today to get the help you, and your child, need in navigating this difficult time. 


Child hugging mother | Case Study on prioritising child's best interests | Seton Family Lawyers | Central Coast Family Lawyer

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