Child custody rights for fathers in NSW

Courts consider the child’s best interest without regard to parental gender aiming to find equitable agreements for both parents.

In Australia, there is a common misconception that mothers will be awarded primary custody with fathers receiving visitation rights over weekend periods. Contrary to popular belief, these notions are incorrect. In fact, the role of fathers have changed over the years as popular culture and social norms evolve too.

Common notions about fathers having greater earning potential and greater work commitments exist. With the evolved age we now live in, courts are not able to consider stereotyped gender roles. Rather, decisions are governed based on the child’s best interests.

Research shows that paternal affection is important for a child’s social and emotional development. Courts will always aim to have a fair split between both parents. But these arrangements do not necessitate equally shared time. Despite this, family courts are bound to always primarily regard the best interests of the child, and this understanding helps to find agreeable arrangements for fathers. However, we should also concede that most fathers do not receive full custody of their children either.

Even after a final ruling, appeals to a family court order can be made. Past legal case studies have shown instances of gradually increasing a father’s care overtime. Of course, practical concerns such as distance and travel costs must also be weighed in deciding arrangements.

Federal jurisdiction

In Australia, all divorce disputes are all handled within the Family Court of Australia. Despite having different family courts spread across different states, all family law matters come under the same federal Family Law Act (1975). The Family Court of Australia is a federal court and as such, deals with divorce and other related issues in all states and territories of Australia with the exception of Western Australia, which has its own family court. Hence child custody rights for fathers in New South Wales would be in the same in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Canberra or the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory.

De-facto relationships

Divorce in a de-facto relationship can bring with it more complications. Courts will need to determine if the de-facto relationship is official by considering the length of the relationship and whether it was displayed publicly, financial factors, the support and care of the child, personal living arrangements, and any shared property. The Family Law Act supports official de-facto relationships with the same rights as married spouses.

As with any conflict, it is always better to resolve them before going to court. In fact, genuine attempts at resolution and efforts for communication a solution must be made prior to court. Family dispute resolution, also known as mediation, is required before beginning any court proceedings.

Common mistakes

Applying for child custody is an emotional struggle. Family is regularly viewed as the most important priority. A number of parents make silly mistakes or choices during custody battles. The greatest problem is unnecessarily bad mouthing one parent to a child. In an inverse fashion, saying things to make children feel sorry for you to pull some emotional heart strings is very manipulative. These shallow actions can also end to not trying to speak to the other parent, or pettily preventing the other parent from having access to the child.

Many parents suffering from excessive drug use or alcohol consumption lie to the court. As a word of advice, the family court is less concerned about your substance abuse and more so focused on your effective ability to parent and how that affects your child. While you may be worried about your colourful past, courts are solely interested in your present and future ability to safely rear children.

Splitting up the children to come to an equitable agreement is also a common mistake. Involving children is important and always put their best interests above your own. Many make this same mistake simply remaining single minded and losing sight of what is most important.

For children under the age of 18 years, courts hold the ultimate power to make orders about where a child lives and who they spend time with, for each parent. Because courts primarily consider the child’s best interest, courts will listen to the child’s view. However, limitations on this input will be based upon the child’s maturity and level of understanding. Feelings and other contributions from older children may be considered particularly significant in court.

Legal representation

Educating yourself on what you are entitled and increasing your awareness will always assist you in these important negotiations. Consult with the family law experts at O’Sullivan Legal today!

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