If you are based in Victoria and have recently divorced or separated from a de facto relationship, the topic of “Fathers Rights Victoria” is important for you. While fathers’ rights in Victoria is not all different form the ones they enjoy in NSW or other states of Australia, it is necessary to go over relevant points in relation to this topic.
In any family law matter, courts and lawyers give the best interests of the child the most importance. These are principles that greatly influence the outcome of any matter. So, what are fathers rights in Victoria?
While each parent i.e. the mother and the father have equal rights, the final outcome of any given matter depends on whatever is best for the well-being and safety of the child.
In this article, let’s explore the rights of fathers in Victoria and other parts of Australia. Firstly, let’s discuss what the Family Law Act (1975) states in relation to this topic. The Family Law Act is the leading piece of legislation for all family law matters in Australia.
Fathers Rights Victoria: What Does the Legislation State?
According to the Family Law Act (1975), it is in the interests of the child to have an equally meaningful relationship with both parents. Moreover, Section 61DA also states that the family court applies the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility or equal parental responsibility.
This means that both parents have equal rights to make short-term and long-term decisions in the child’s life and spend time with the child.
This shows that the legislation states that fathers rights in Victoria are not less than mothers rights. In fact, courts place the emphasis on what works for the child, and which situations ensure the well-being, protection, development and safety of the child.
The only situations where a parent may not get their rights is if they have been violent towards the other parent or the child, or child from the extended family. If that party has subjected or exposed the child to any form of abuse, physical or psychological harm or even neglect, the family court may not award parental responsibility to that party. However, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot have visitation rights.
Let’s suppose that a divorced father of a child, Mr Yales, had exhibited violent behaviour during the course of his marriage. Mr Yales was verbally abusive towards his wife.
Moreover, Mr Yales did not directly abuse his child, but the child was exposed to an abusive environment at home because of Mr Yales. In such a scenario, the courts may not provide Mr Yales with parental responsibility. It may, on the other hand, order that the Mr Yales receive help to rectify his abusive nature.
Furthermore, the family court can order Mr Yales to attend supervised visitation so that he can continue maintaining contact with his child. If required, the court may appoint an independent children’s lawyer who can decide what’s best for the child.
In this scenario, the court needs to consider both the primary points under the best interests principle. Firstly, it includes the need to protect the child from abuse or physical and psychological harm. Secondly, it includes the benefit to the child of having a meaningful and healthy relationship not just with one parent, but both his/her parents. The court considers it important for the child to spend equal time, or substantial and significant time with each parent.
How Can Fathers Enjoy Their Parental Rights in Victoria?
To understand what are fathers rights in Victoria, many parties would want to know how they can ensure that they are able to enjoy these parental rights that they have. This all depends on the kinds of arrangements that fathers are able to make with their former spouses.
On the one hand, former partners are able to make mutual agreements and draft parenting plans. In these plans, they can include visitation schedules and clearly specify custody rights of each party. Additionally, they can also include schedules for other parties to visit the child such as relatives including aunts, and grandparents.
Where two parties are able to make a parenting plan, lawyers highly recommend that they use those plans and request the court to turn them into consent orders. Consent orders make the plan more formal and legally binding, meaning that, if a party breaches the order, they can be penalised.
In scenarios where two parties aren’t able to agree on parenting arrangements, they will need to make applications for parenting orders. Based on the individual circumstances of the case, the court will consider mothers’s and fathers’ rights in Victoria and make orders accordingly.
If there are instances of family violence or domestic violence, the court will consider the matter carefully and it can also give sole parental responsibility to the party who has not been violent. As mentioned above, parents’ will still have custodial and visitation rights even if they have been violent in the past.
Why Should Parents Seek Legal Advice from Family Lawyers?
The law underlying family law matters is quite complicated. Parents or fathers rights in Victoria or Australia is an important topic because historically, courts have not favoured fathers when it comes to custody or visitation rights. To a certain extent, this may be true even in the year 2022.
While our society has evolved over the years and many such traditional notions have been replaced with modern ideas such as fathers as primary carers, and mothers as breadwinners instead, the problem still exists.
Therefore, both the mother and father should seek legal advice from experienced lawyers to ensure that they get desired outcomes in their family law issues. This could be in relation to parenting matters, property matters or any other legal issue under family law.
Family lawyers can help parties draft consent orders based on the interests of the child. Moreover, if they wish to apply for parenting orders instead, family law solicitors can help each party to gather evidence for their case so as to ensure that the resulting outcome is satisfactory.
Most importantly, family law solicitors can offer mediation and arbitration services that are extremely important alternative dispute resolution methods. The law encourages all parties to attempt mediation or attend family dispute resolution before approaching a family law court for a parenting order.
Our team of lawyers provide tailored-advice to each client. Our experience and knowledge about the law has helped many clients within our community to be successful in their legal matter. Contact us for more information on fathers rights Victoria.