It’s the age-old story.
Following a divorce or separation, if you are the father, you will not get custody of the children because custody rights for fathers in Australia are less than that of the mother’s.
Does this age-old story hold true? Or is it merely an old wives tale?
The purpose of this article is to discuss custody rights for fathers in Australia and what you need to know.
The Great Lie About Custody Rights For Fathers In Australia
Custody rights for fathers in Australia are not less than that of the mother in modern times. This is a common misconception that can be attributed to this historically being the case.
In modern times, custody rights for fathers in Australia are not distinguished from custody rights from that of a mother’s custody rights. The Family Law Act states that “A child has the right to know and be cared for by both parents”. Accordingly, this indicates that the Court should not give any preference to either parent and that there is no bias in Court.
Another reason why people may believe that custody rights for fathers in Australia are not equal to the mother’s rights can be attributed to the stereotypical household roles that mothers and fathers continue to play in a traditional household. This is where the father works, and the mother takes care of the home and children. Accordingly, because the mother is the primary caretaker of the children – this will be a point in her favour in the eyes of the Court.
Custody Rights For Fathers in Australia And Going To Court
Suppose your parenting arrangement dispute was to proceed to Court. In that case, there is no guarantee that the decision will be an equal shared parental responsibility arrangement where you and your partner both get 50-50 custody.
Legal action can be very costly, time-consuming and result in an uncertain and unfavourable outcome. This is why it is recommended that, where possible, you try and work out the matter informally with your former partner before commencing any legal action.
As such, both parents should make the best attempt to put aside any negative feelings and do what is in the best interests of their children. Suppose you are trying to facilitate informal arrangements. In that case, it is important to remember that agreeable terms may not happen right away, so it is vital to give it some time and then try to discuss the matter again later.
If you cannot reach a mutually satisfactory compromise, the next best thing would be to try and resolve the matter in a mediation session. This is where a neutral third-party mediator or lawyer who is also a mediator will help you both reach a fair compromise.
How Are Custody Rights For Fathers In Australia Determined In Court?
If you were to proceed to a Court setting, the starting point of the Court’s decision-making process is known as the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility.
This means that at the start of your proceedings, the Court will assume that the mother and the father of the children are equals and entitled to an even stake in child custody and decision-making rights.
From this point, multiple factors will influence whether the Court will stick to the equal shared parental responsibility arrangement. These factors are known as the ‘best interests of the child’ and are reflected in the Family Law Act.
What Are The Best Interests Of The Child?
The child’s best interests are the primary factors the Court will consider in determining parenting disputes, such as the custody rights for both parents.
The best interests of the child include:
- The benefit of the child maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents, balanced with other factors;
- The need to protect the children from any family violence or physical and psychological abuse;
- The child’s maturity, relative to their level of understanding of the situation;
- The views and opinions of the child;
- Any unique characteristics of the child such as their lifestyle, background and special needs;
- The willingness of each parent to facilitate an ongoing relationship with each other for the benefit of the child; and
- The likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, such as their living situation and being separated from a parent.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing custody rights for fathers in Australia, it is essential to remember that custody rights for fathers are not generally less than that of a mother and that every situation is different.
To better understand what your custody rights may be, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers today. We are happy to advise you on the prospects of your matter.
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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