Child custody rights for fathers in Australia is a common concern for fathers’ going through a divorce or separation involving children.
It is entirely understandable. You are worried about not being a big part of your children’s lives like you once were and may believe that the mother is entitled to more rights than you are.
Are mother’s really entitled to more rights than fathers, though?
The following article will discuss child custody rights for fathers in Australia and what you can expect if your parenting matter was to proceed to Court.
The Starting Point Of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility
The Court’s legal starting point for determining parenting matters is known in the Family Law Act as equal shared parental responsibility.
What equal shared parental responsibility means is that when the Court determines which parent a child will primarily live with, spend time with and make significant decisions about. Both of the parents will be considered on equal footing, as this is presumed to be in the child’s best interests.
Multiple variables will influence whether the Court will choose to depart from this presumption that equal shared parental responsibility applies, legally known as the child’s best interests.
What Are The Best Interests Of The Child Factors?
As mentioned previously, when the Court is determining child custody rights for fathers in Australia – they will refer to what is known as the best interests of the child factors, which are contained in the Family Law Act.
Under Section 60CC of The Family Law Act, the primary two considerations are:
Firstly – The benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
Secondly, the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm, family violence, neglect, or abuse.
These factors will be balanced in contrast with one another, and the second factor will be attributed more importance when determining parenting arrangements.
Other Best Interests Of The Child Factors
The two factors mentioned above are usually the most decisive in determining child custody rights for fathers in Australia. However, every matter is different and sometimes other factors will play a more prominent role in determining parenting arrangements.
As such, here are some other factors the Courts will consider:
- The relationship the child has with their grandparents or parents;
- The attitude of each parenting towards their parenting duties;
- The opinions and views of the child;
- How involved the parents are in the lives of the child;
- The ability of both parents to facilitate an ongoing relationship with each other for their child;
- Where the child goes to school and the practicality of where each parent lives;
- Whether any family violence orders are in place against either parent; and
- Any unique characteristics of the child such as their background, lifestyle and level of maturity.
Are Child Custody Rights For Fathers In Australia Less Than Mothers?
A largely prevalent misconception about parenting arrangements in Australia is that child custody rights for fathers in Australia are less than that of mothers’.
While In reality, the Courts do not favour either the mother or the father
The Family Law Act provides that a child has a right to a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. Accordingly, both mothers and fathers are legal equals at the start of Court proceedings.
Why Does It Seem Like Mothers Have Greater Custody Rights?
You may be scratching your head and still thinking that child custody rights for fathers in Australia are still less than that of mothers’.
Well, you are not alone. There are multiple reasons which have caused this mistaken belief.
A significant contributing factor to this is the stereotypical roles that both the mother and father still play in an Australian family dynamic. This is where the mother stays at home and looks after the home and children, while the father goes off to work and financially provides for the family. The result of this is that now the mother and children have formed a deeper bond than the father and children.
This is where the previously mentioned ‘best interests of the child’ factors come into play. Accordingly, the Court will favour the mother over the father because the mother has become what is known in psychology as the children’s primary attachment. Consequently, separating the children from their primary attachment at younger ages can severely damage their development and psyche.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing matters such as child custody rights for fathers, it is essential to remember that fathers will start as having equal rights to mothers when it comes to Court proceedings. These rights will accordingly increase, reduce or stay the same based on the best interests of the child factors.
If you have any further questions about child custody rights for fathers or need assistance in your family law matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way.
With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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