Denying Access to a Child in Australia – Is it Allowed?

During a separation or divorce it is not uncommon for one parent to try to limit or prevent contact between the young one and the other parent; the parent denying access to a child in Australia may believe they are doing this for valid reasons, but in most cases this is generally not allowed.

Getting divorced is stressful in itself, and having your ex-partner try to prevent you from seeing your kids can make things even worse. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to improve the situation.

This article will examine when contact between a parent and their son or daughter is allowed to be refused and when it is not.

The rules

As a general rule, a parent is not allowed to practice denying access to a child in Australia, even in the following situations:

  • The parent won’t pay family support
  • The parent is occasionally late to pick up or drop off their young one
  • The parent does not visit their young one enough despite there being a custody agreement in place.

If a parent wants to reduce or stop contact with the other parent, they will generally have to go to court to get an order from a judge. However, if the young one is in psychological or physical danger, the parent is allowed to do what they must in order to protect them. The parent can then go to court to request an order denying access to a child in Australia, or at least ask the court to limit visitation rights.

When the court will refuse contact

Typically the court will only allow for denying access to a child in Australia in exceptional circumstances or when it is required to protect the safety and best interests of a young one.

The court will typically attempt to give a less extreme ruling, such as by allowing the parent to see their young one via supervised contact. This allows parents in jail to still be able to see their son or daughter occasionally.

Limiting contact

It is more likely that the court will limit contact rather than completely denying access to a child in Australia. Some options include:

Supervised contact

If a parent has unhealthy behaviours, habits or attitudes then they might only be allowed to see their son or daughter under supervised visits. This is done to protect the young one from things like drug and alcohol abuse or violence. Alternatively, if it has been many years since the young one last had contact with their parent, supervised contact may act as a way to gradually ease them back into the relationship, rather than completely denying access to a child in Australia. The following people may be allowed to supervise:

  • A trustworthy relative
  • A trustworthy person who is not a relative (e.g. babysitter or close family friend)
  • A qualified professional.

Contact at a distance

If a parent is not deemed safe to be around, rather than completely denying access to a child in Australia the court may rule that contact between the parent and their young one must be kept at a distance; i.e. by phone, online or through letters.

Creative measures

The final option involves creative measures in order to keep the young one safe whilst visiting a parent who has potentially unsafe behaviours. This could include a court order for the parent to not do drugs, play video games or smoke in front of their young one, or a court order to safely install a kid’s car seat every time they use their car.

Conclusion

If you believe a parent is unfairly denying access to a child in Australia and want to do something about it, it may help to have a chat to the parent in a safe environment and express your concerns. If this does not work and they refuse to go to counselling with you or the other parent, it is a good idea to seek legal advice from a solicitor or apply for a court contact order. Whilst denying access to a child in Australia may be allowed under certain circumstances, for the most part this is not appropriate.