Understanding Australia’s Child Custody Laws

Understanding Australia’s child custody laws can be complicated. Australian family law aims to promote deep, meaningful relationships between parents and children.

In Australia, divorce issues are handled by the Family Court of Australia. When it comes to child custody matters, consideration of the child and protecting them is always the primary focus. Every child has the right to have a meaningful relationship with their parents.

Because of the wide nature of parenting roles and the diverse combinations you and your former partner can now come in, the 1975 Family Law Act (an official act from the Australian Parliament) does not make any assumptions regarding parenting roles and is gender-neutral. These guidelines also outline a number of other issues, including property settlement during divorce.

At O’Sullivan Legal, our team of expert child custody lawyers can ensure that your child will be given the rights and quality of life they truly deserve.

Speak to our team today and seek legal advice for the best outcome for you and your family

  • Parental responsibility
  • Parenting time
  • Parenting time

Custody requirements can vary depending on the age of the child. Whenever a child is a minor, in other words, they are under 18 years of age each parent shares joint responsibility for the child. We call this principle equal shared parental responsibility. Both parents will be involved in making major long-term decisions for their children.

These involved decisions encompass a large spectrum of life choices such as schooling, health, and religion. Whenever possible, the family law court will always aim to share parental responsibility. In some cases, this will not always be possible, and the removal of parental responsibility from one or both parents can be done when the court decides it is in the best interest of the child. Keep in mind that equally shared parental responsibility is not the same as spending equal time with your child.

Common misconceptions about legal entitlements to equal contact between each parent frequently circulate. Additionally, parental responsibility for the children will apply regardless of whether the child’s parents were ever in a relationship, married, in a de-facto relationship, or in any other extenuating circumstance. At O’Sullivan Legal, we offer legal services for all parenting matters to ensure your child will be taken care of throughout the entire custody process.


Contrary to popular opinion, there are no concrete rulings regarding the arrangements of which parent children should live and spend time with. Previously, custody or contact arrangements were made between each party. However, these terms are no longer used in Australian family law.

In most cases, each parent will discuss the child’s needs and will then come to an agreement about housing arrangements and dividing time spent between each. If both parents are able to come to agreeable terms, then you do not need to go to court. Parenting arrangements can be prepared and drafted, then sent to court pending approval via a consent order. In family law, dispute resolution is the favoured tactic for resolving complex disputes over child custody arrangements.

These negotiations can increase in complexity depending on the current partnership status of the two parents. Whenever a child is born to an unmarried mother, the birthing mother is automatically granted sole custodianship. Unless a mutual arrangement can be met, the father does not have any legal right to see that child without a court order. As such, any father wishing to visit or establish custody of that child should first establish paternity.


In cases whereby the parents reach an agreement, the living arrangements and child visitation schedule, a parenting plan or parenting orders should be put in place.

A parenting plan is a written parenting agreement that organises making arrangements in regard to the children. This document records important information, including where they will reside, when they stay with the other parent, a visitation schedule for other holidays, e.g. school holidays, and other parenting matters.

While a parenting plan isn’t legally enforceable, we suggest sending this document to the courts so that it becomes an enforceable agreement.

For those who have finalised writing an application for consent orders and have included their parenting plan, you can have it authorised by the court as a Consent Order.

If you need assistance drafting a parenting plan, we have the best child custody lawyers who are here to help you.

Importance Of Granting The Child Rights To A Meaningful Relationship With Both Parents

The focus of parents should be directed towards the best interest of their child. Courts do not like denying the child of its rights to a meaningful relationship with both parents. priving parents of their rights unless they decide it is necessary, which also requires some grounding. When evaluating the custody and visitation arrangements of children, a number of important factors are considered.

The common factors that are considered include financial status, current residency and the moral character of each parent. If parents can soundly provide for their kids financially and with a safe and stable environment with love and respect, then their prospects for visitation or custody are bright.

In situations where there is evidence showing family violence, such as physical or psychological harm among one parent or both parents, this is a big factor in deciding who should take responsibility for the child.

Financial Responsibility For Children

Regardless of which parent the child lives with, each parent has the duty the financially support their children after separating. Parents usually manage these financial liabilities among themselves. Whenever circumstances prevent the monetary support of a child, the Department of Human Services can administer child support programs to assist parents to support their children. These services are administered after a child support assessment.

Putting Your Child’s Wellbeing First

A divorce can be a difficult and stressful period for all family members. Not only for both parents, but it always heavily weighs on the children too. All current and ongoing actions should be focused on what is best for your children right now while also thinking ahead.

The Child Custody Lawyers You Can Rely On

Child custody cases can be complicated. Stay informed of your rights and seek qualified guidance and representation with the experienced family lawyers at O’Sullivan Legal.

Contact our team today to see how we can best help you with your family law matter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I hire a child custody lawyer?

Child custody matters are often emotionally as well as legally complex. Our lawyers can help you reach an agreement and take you through the legal process, including documentation, proceedings, practical advice, etc. For all these reasons, you can be assured of the best possible outcome for your case by having effective legal representation on your side.

Do I have to attend court for a child custody case?

You are not required to go to court for child custody matters. Usually, they are taken to court when there are no other options available.

In these particular circumstances, your family lawyer should help you to find a way to reach an agreement with your former partner without it affecting your relationship with them.

Family dispute resolution is a critical step for all child custody cases prior to attending court. This is to ensure that both parents can find a solution and minimise court and legal fees.

We offer effective family dispute resolution services at O’Sullivan Mediation as a way to get both parties to reach an agreement without having to attend court.

However, if both parents are not able to see eye to eye, you must apply to go to court.

How does the court determine whether either or both parents are in the child's best interests?

The most important thing when it comes to child custody matters is the child’s safety. As we’ve mentioned the court looks at a range of factors, including financial status, place of residence and judge of character to ensure the child’s wellbeing is being prioritised.

What are the primary considerations for making parenting arrangements?

There are two primary considerations when it comes to making parenting arrangements. This includes:

  1. They have a meaningful relationship with both their parents.
  2. They are safe from harm, e.g. abuse, neglect, physical or physiological harm, etc.
What are the do's and don’ts of custody cases?


  • Inappropriate misconduct, e.g. not following court instructions
  • Not arriving on time for visits
  • Negative talk about your former spouse or making false accusations about them
  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs


  • Collate evidence (this is essential for cases whereby you think that your child is in danger with the other parent)
  • Hire a good lawyer
  • Making a genuine effort to cooperate with your former partner
  • Showcase that you’re a fairly capable, considerate, and dedicated parent
  • Spend equal time with and develop a good rapport with your children

We make things easy, efficient and worry-free.
Talk to us today.

Copyright © 2013 – 2023 Family Law Legal – O’Sullivan Legal. | Sitemap