Child custody matters are one of the most common issues addressed by Family Law in Australia. It is important for divorcing parents to understand the process of deciding who will have physical and legal custody of their children, as well as the rights and responsibilities associated with these roles. This article provides an overview of child custody matters in Australian family law, including information about parenting plans and legislation governing such cases.
In Australia, there are two types of parenting orders which determine who has legal and physical custody over a child following a separation or divorce:
- Sole Parenting Orders: These orders permit only one parent to have responsibility over day-to-day decisions regarding the child’s health, education and welfare, however both parents may still likely share equal rights when it comes to spending time with their child. Usually, this type of order is granted if it’s determined that one spouse is best suited for responsibility due to practical considerations.
- Joint Parenting Orders: These orders allow both parents to equally share
decision-making responsibilities while also allowing them equal access to their child. This type of order is often used when both parties can effectively cooperate and communicate when making decisions about their children’s care.
The Best Interests Of The Child
The court always considers what is best for the interests of the child when determining which type of parenting order should be made. Factors taken into consideration include but not limited to:
- age/maturity level
- any existing relationships between parents/child
- lifestyle preferences
- religious beliefs held by either party (as applicable).
Additionally, if safety concerns exist, then special conditions can be implemented. These conditions include requiring exchanges to take place in public places rather than at either person’s home address.
Creating A Parenting Plan
It’s always advised that divorcing couples attempt to come up with an acceptable parenting plan before seeking legal intervention. This saves time (and money) down the line.
A good way to get started on creating such documents would be through ‘mediation sessions’. This is where mediators help facilitate discussions between the parties.
For more information on child custody matters please contact our Family Law Team (02) 4602 0868.