Without getting into the details of extra-marital affairs and whether you should leave a party or not, this column is really about what you do next and the impact upon you and the Court’s views, as a consequence.
Only some matters end up in Court and some are finalised outside of Court. But however your matter is finalised, you should always consider, “What if a Court was to assess my conduct?”
So, from the outset, you need to understand that the Family Law Court is only interested in protecting the children and making decisions that are in their best interest. That is their only legislative power: they do not have the power to punish people for the affair or look after the adults, but they will take into account your conduct as a parent.
This means they will take into account the ability of parents to ‘co-parent’, ‘prioritise the children’s needs’ and ‘look after the bests interests of the children’ when making a decision about how much time that each party has with the children.
So if you put down the other parent to the child, or include them in ‘adult’ matters, and that comes out in Court, the Court will not look upon that behaviour as appropriate. Or if you are an obstructionist to the other party in dealing with aspects of the children, then the Court could consider that you have an inability to co-parent. If you’re seen to be alienating the child from the parent, the Court will not be happy with that conduct.
All these things may weigh on a Judge when they decide what is in the best interests of the children and how much time you should spend with the child/ren; often less time for the offending parent. After all, the Court is looking to act in the best interests of the child.
It makes sense, then, that if the parties can remain amicable (at least in front of, and incidental to anything to do with, the children), then those issues will not have a negative impact on the Court’s decision.
It is critical for the children, and for your position in the Court, to be seen to be ‘playing with a straight bat’. If you have any queries, we’re happy to discuss these with you.
This column is not legal advice as it does not take into consideration your individual facts and you ought to seek independent legal advice.