7 Essential Aspects of Child Custody Laws in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide

Walker Pender Lawyers
Based on 73 reviews
powered by Google
child custody law | Walker Pender

The ‘best interests of the child’ principle is the cornerstone of child custody laws in Australia.

Our family lawyers explain what it means and how it impacts custody decisions.

The Family Law Act 1975: Setting the Framework for Child Custody Laws in Australia

Section 60CA of the Family Law Act 1975 explicitly states that the child’s best interests must be paramount in making a parenting order.

This reflects Australia’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Child Custody Laws in Australia put the child’s welfare and interests above all other considerations, ensuring that the child’s needs are prioritised.

What is The Meaning of ‘Best Interests’ According to Child Custody Laws in Australia?

The term ‘best interests’ encompasses a range of factors, all aimed at safeguarding the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional well-being in Child Custody Laws in Australia.

It considers the child’s views, their relationship with both parents, their safety, the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs, and the effect of changes in the child’s circumstances, among others.

Under Section 60CC of the Family Law of 1975, when determining what is in the child’s best interests, the court gives primary consideration to:

  1. The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents.
  2. The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

The Child’s Best Interests vs Parents’ Desires

Sometimes, what the parents want, or think is best, may not align with the child’s best interests.

For example, a parent may wish to relocate for work or a new relationship, which could disrupt the child’s routine and relationships.

The court in child custody laws in Australia will always prioritise the child’s best interests over the parents’ desires.

What Are the Factors in Determining the Child’s Best Interests?

Various factors are considered when determining the child’s best interests, including their age, any views they may express, their relationship with each parent, any history of family violence, and the likely effect of any changes on the child’s circumstances.

How Do Courts Decide in Custody Cases?

All rulings on children’s matters, including custody decisions and parenting orders, must adhere to this best interests standard.

This doesn’t necessarily mean equal time with each parent. Instead, it emphasises that the child’s welfare, safety, and development are more important than any other factor, including the parents’ wishes.

Judges must weigh all factors and circumstances to determine what arrangement best support the child’s well-being and what adheres to child custody laws in Australia.

Balancing Rights and Responsibilities

While parental rights and responsibilities are essential, they don’t outweigh the child’s best interests in child custody laws in Australia.

The aim is to strike a balance that respects the rights of parents but prioritises the child’s wellbeing. This balance can be complex, necessitating careful consideration and sometimes expert input.

What is Parenting Time?

Parenting time, previously known as ‘custody’ or ‘access,’ refers to the child’s time with each parent. Under Australian law, there’s a presumption that it’s in the child’s best interest for parents to have equal shared parental responsibility. This doesn’t necessarily mean equal time, but the court will consider whether equal time is in the child’s best interests and reasonably practicable.

Understanding Shared Care

Shared care allows parents to be significantly involved in their child’s life. This could mean an equal 50/50 split or other arrangements that ensure the child spends substantial time with both parents. This includes weekdays, weekends, holidays, and special occasions, providing a balanced routine for the child.

Parenting Responsibility and Decision-Making

Parenting responsibility refers to the duties, powers, obligations, and authority parents have by law. Parents are expected to collaborate and make joint decisions about the long-term issues affecting their child, including education, health, religion, and cultural upbringing.

Equal shared parental responsibility does not concern the day-to-day decisions such as what a child will eat or wear, usually made by the parent the child is staying with.

When Disputes Arise

If parents cannot agree on these matters, they may need to use a dispute resolution service. This can be a helpful step before applying for court orders. If issues proceed to court, the judge will always consider the child’s best interests when making parenting time or responsibility orders.

Variations in Agreements

As children grow and circumstances change, parenting plans may need to be adjusted. Changes in parental circumstances, the child’s needs, or wishes can all trigger modifications to the existing parenting agreement.

Securing 50/50 Child Custody through Walker Pender Group

Our client, a devoted father, approached us seeking assistance in obtaining 50/50 custody of his child. The mother resisted, making unfounded claims of verbal abuse to undermine his case. We knew we had to present a solid case to defend his rights and safeguard the child’s best interests.

The Walker Pender Group acted swiftly. Our skilled lawyers gathered extensive evidence, including character references, psychological assessments, and evidence of the strong bond between father and child. We meticulously prepared the client for the court process and effectively countered the baseless allegations made by the mother.

We highlighted the father’s sincere commitment to shared parental responsibility as outlined in the Family Law Act 1975, emphasising his capacity to provide for his child’s emotional and intellectual needs.

Ultimately, the court acknowledged our robust evidence and the father’s dedication to his child’s wellbeing, granting 50/50 custody. The client was deeply grateful for our guidance and support during this challenging journey. With Walker Pender Group, he was able to secure a fair outcome for himself and his child.

You don’t have to do it alone. At Walker Pender, we provide compassionate and expert legal guidance every step of the way.

Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you secure the best outcome for your family.

    Do You Have a Case?

    Get your free case review within 24 hours. All Fields Required.

    Scroll to Top