When a married couple opts for divorce under Australian family law, dependent children are often considered to be the most affected parties. For that reason, the courts often seek to make parental arrangements that will be in the best interest of the children. Generally speaking, court action is only considered when parents cannot reach consensus at the mediation stage that precedes the court process. But there are special circumstances when parents may be allowed to bypass the mediation stage and head to court straightaway.
Let's discuss what some of these exceptional situations are.
When there has been violent behaviour.
No child deserves to be subjected to any form of violence, be it physical or non-physical. Physical violence relates to any parental action that may inflict bodily injuries on children. Non-physical violence, on the other hand, refers to parental conduct that can make children suffer from psychological and emotional problems, without necessarily resulting in bodily injuries. Psychological violence arises when a parent uses threats and instills fear in a child so as to gain control. Emotional violence, on the other hand, happens when a parent lowers the self-esteem of a child by using abuse words or actions.
When there has been sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse is treated as a special kind of violence against children because the Australian family law system recognises that the fact that children are not conscious of their sexuality and they should therefore be protected from any kind of sexual advances or encounters until they've come of age. If there is evidence that children have been subjected to any form of sexual abuse, the matter should be brought to the attention of the courts immediately.
When there has been neglect.
Parents have a responsibility to cater for the needs of their children. This means providing the children with basic needs, including good food, shelter, education and clothing, but also playing an active role in the everyday life of the young ones, like attending a child's school meetings, for example. Neglect occurs when a parent fails to provide assistance to a child despite being in a position to do so.
When there is absenteeism.
As indicated above, children require both their parents in their lives. But if a parent is unable to be there for the children because of one reason or another, say if they have been put behind bars, for example, they won't be able to play an active parenting role in the lives of their children. The other parent may want sole custody of the children because of this. This may be sufficient grounds to skip the mediation process.