Custody & Parenting

Swanwick Murray Roche – Rockhampton & CQ Family Lawyers and Solicitors

Our lawyers understand what you are going through. Let us help you.

What can we do for you?

Parenting disputes or custody issues commonly arise during separations (and after the separation). Sometimes, Mum or Dad won’t let the other parent see the children. Sometimes, a parent takes the children away from their home town. Sometimes, a parent refuses to support the children (financially or at home). There are so many situations that arise – and while one solution might suit one person, the law or circumstances might result in something different for another parent. It can be very confusing!

We know the answers.

It is important to get the right advice, as early as possible. If you do not, you may accidentally do or say something that you negatively affect your rights or options around custody during any formal legal proceeding.

We can help you:

  • know your rights and options;
  • create a strategy for your dispute;
  • outline ways to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible;
  • help you seek support to reduce the effect of the dispute on yourself and your children.
Some things you might see in a custody/parenting dispute...

Some ways in which a dispute can be resolved…

Disputes can be resolved and settled by:

  • Making a written agreement between parents. Having a lawyer review and settle the agreement is useful to ensure all common and relevant aspects of custody are included in the document.
  • Obtaining an agreement via mediation or formal Family Dispute Resolution process.
  • Obtaining a court order from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Family Dispute Resolutions

All parties involved in a parenting or custody dispute must attend a Family Dispute Resolution if their dispute goes to court. Family Dispute Resolution is designed to resolve custody and parenting issues our of court. We can assist you to prepare for the process. Ideally, you will want to know what a judge would be likely to order for you – so that you can seek that at mediation (and save further stress and cost).

You can also voluntarily engage in the Family Dipsute Resolution process – it might be a way to avoid filing in court, if you can settle before getting to that stage.

You can read more about the process here – 

Child’s rights in custody dispute

The rights of children are the basic principle guiding all decisions by a court. Sometimes, that wont match up with what you think is right for the child (so you should seek advice to make sure you are right). To protect children, the court looks at the following basic principles:

  • Children have the right to be properly cared for and protected from harm
  • If possible, both parents should be meaningfully engaged in their children’s lives
  • Parents are responsible for caring for their children.

What Does the Court Consider When Deciding Child Custody?

The court considers a range of factors before deciding on a child custody matter. The court must first consider if an ‘equal time’ arrangement is appropriate or failing that if, a ‘significant and substantial’ time arrangement is appropriate. It does this by looking at the ‘best interest’ factors. This includes matters such as, the child’s wishes, the current living arrangements and many more. The court must also consider if the arrangements proposed are ‘reasonably practicable’.

Each case is unique, but anything to do with a child’s wellbeing can impact the final decision. There are so many factors that could be relevant – so it is important to seek proper advice.

What Is Parental Responsibility and How Is It Relevant?

The law presumes that both parents have shared parental responsibility.

Under a shared parental responsibility arrangement, parents play an equally important role in deciding the big issues in a child’s life such as, education and health. The court will only change the presumption of shared parental responsibility if it is not in a child’s best interests (e.g. if a parent has engaged in abuse or family violence), in which case the court will order sole parental responsibility to one parent.

Will the Child’s Preferences Be Considered?

Children in Queensland do not need to meet a specific age requirement before their wishes can influence a child custody matter. If a child expresses a wish as to which parent they want to live with, their emotional maturity will need to be assessed.

Even though the views of young children are of interest, the court is more likely to seriously consider and give more weight to the opinion of a child in their mid-to-late teens. Should a child’s wishes change as they grow older, a custody agreement can be altered to suit their needs.

Why are we different?

Our experienced lawyers know that you need:

  • someone who understands the emotions and attitudes of the people involved in your situation;
  • your concerns; especially around financial security, child custody, personal safety and so on;
  • someone who will provide upfront information about pricing and legal costs (and keep you updated as the matter progresses);
  • a lawyer who will provide practical, results-focused advice.

Our lawyers know that family law clients are usually experiencing one of the most emotional times of their life – a fear of the unknown, concern over financial security, worry for future care of children, anxiety around personal safety and so on. Added to this, most people don’t know what their legal options are – especially when well-meaning friends or family offer advice that may or may not be correct. Our lawyers see your whole matter and not just the court documents that need to be drafted.

Our lawyers cut through these issues and provide you with legal advice and a strategy based on decades of legal experience to give you the confidence to move forward with your life.

At your first appointment:

  • you meet with an experienced lawyer;
  • you are advised in frank terms about legal costs and estimates to the end of your matter;
  • our lawyer listens to you and understands your matter;
  • our lawyer gives you some basic advice about how we start and handle your matter going forward.

Our family lawyers

Our team is well trained and regularly participate in specialist seminars, reading industry updates, court decisions & legislative amendments. Our team stays in contact with industry professionals (such as forensic accountants, investigators, valuers, real estate agents and so on) to ensure we have good working relationships with the right people when you need it.

Click on our staff profiles to learn more about each of our experienced team members:


Check out some of our recent legal updates and property resources that you might find useful on this Family Law Resources link. Please remember that these updates and resources are general guidance only. If you need legal advice, you should contact us to discuss your matter as your personal circumstances may not suit the circumstances described in the updates and resources.

During family law legal matters, many issues come up that require the support of experienced social support works and other professionals. Here are some links to support resources that may help you (please ensure that you make yourself familiar with any confidentiality rules or seek advice from us):


To talk about your matter – reach out to us via any means to start a conversation. All of our contact information is listed here on our Contact Page.


David Lipke

David Lipke is a partner of our Rockhampton firm overseeing the litigation and insurance division in the firm. His experience includes work in institutional claims, workers compensation and motor accident claims.

Terry Tummon

Terry Tummon is a partner of the firm overseeing the family law division. Terry’s experience includes dealing with property settlement and litigation matters.

Robert Rooney

Robert Rooney is a partner of the firm overseeing the commercial & business, property, wills & estates division. His experience includes commercial transaction and advisory work.

Katina Perren

Katina Perren is a solicitor of the firm, Independent Children’s Lawyer and Separate Representative. Her experience includes work in custody, separation, divorce and property settlement matters.

Nicola Goodwin

Nicola Goodwin is a solicitor of Swanwick Murray Roche practicing in family law, divorce and separation matters, parenting disputes and court applications for family matters.


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