Sometimes parents may seek to apply for full custody of a child because their child is exposed to a risk of psychological or physical harm by the other parent. Accordingly, the parent Applying for full custody of the child desires to protect the child from harm by implementing measures that do not allow the other parent from coming into contact with the child, picking them up from school and so on.
The following article will provide a quick introduction on what full custody of a child involves, and how to actually go about applying for full custody of a child.
What Is ‘Full’ Custody Of A Child?
The terms full custody and sole custody can be used interchangeably. Full custody of a child refers to the situation where one parent has the power to make all the decisions regarding their child or children, including decisions regarding their care, welfare and living arrangements.
The law assumes that a child having a meaningful and regular relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the child. Despite this, parents will sometimes come to agreements where one parent will have ‘full’ or ‘sole’ custody of a child. In such an instance, this agreement can be put in writing by the parents either in a consent order which is submitted to the court and is legally binding or on an informal basis such as a parenting plan. It is important to note, that the legal option does not terminate the rights of another parent who does not have full custody, and this parent may apply at a later time to vary the order.
What If The Other Parent Objects?
The situation of seeking sole custody, or what is known legally as ‘sole parental responsibility’ typically becomes more complicated where one parent seeks to apply for full custody of a child and the other objects. In this situation, there is normally an order of events which is followed where firstly, parents must attempt to come to an agreement with the aid of a mediator at a Family Dispute Resolution Conference.
In the event the parents cannot come to an agreement via mediation, if either parent wishes to pursue the matter further, this will need to be done in a formal legal setting through the Family Court which can make a binding decision on how the child should be parented.
What To Expect In Family Court
The court will always start on the basis that shared equal parental responsibility is in the best interests of the child in order to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. The paramount consideration of the court in making any parenting order is ensuring the bests interests of the child. Accordingly, In order to successfully apply for full custody of a child, you need to rebut this basis by providing evidence to show that it is not in the best interests of the child to have regular contact or any contact whatsoever with the other parent.
The Family court has the power to award one parent with sole responsibility for the child, and in addition, may issue a no-contact order. Sole parental responsibility and termination of a parents rights are not the same things. Despite the fact that one parent will not exercise their rights and responsibilities in relation to their child, they will still remain the parent of that child.
Alternatively, the court may award one parent sole parental responsibility regarding specific areas such as all decisions regarding the child’s religious upbringing, what school they may attend and so on.
Type of Evidence You Need When Applying For Full Custody Of A Child
In deciding whether the court should make an order to grant one parent sole parental responsibility, the court will consider any evidence such as:
- Court Orders
- Police Reports
- The psychological state and stability of each parent
- Weighing up whether seeing a parent less is more beneficial than risking the child being exposed to potential harm
- The risk of exposing a child to violence as per 61DA of the Family Law Act
These factors are however not conclusive, meaning just because they can be proved it does not mean the other parent may be excluded entirely from participating in the life of the child. For instance, even if it is proved that a parent may pose a danger to a child, the court can still order supervised contact if it is deemed to be ‘in the best interests of the child’ to have a relationship with both parents. By extension, the court may also order contact with grandparents, uncles, aunties and other extended family if it deemed to be ‘in the best interests of the child’. This situation can occur irrespective of whether the parent has contact.
Are you considering applying for full custody of a child?
It is important to seek legal advice if you are considering applying for full custody of a child.
JB Solicitors can take the guesswork out of whether applying for full custody of your child is the right decision. Our team of expert lawyers can help you weigh the pros and cons of the situation, and come to a decision that is right for you and your child.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our experienced family lawyers.
More Questions About Family Law?
If you have any more questions involving family law, or any circumstances involving your children, check out some of our other articles: