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Child custody rights for parents in NSW: Get the facts

Separation and divorce can be a tumultuous and stressful time. Whether you’re seeking a divorce lawyer or need advice on separation or child custody matters, it is important you know the facts. Our family law experts at Benjamin & Robinson Lawyers answer some of the most frequently asked questions about child custody rights for parents in NSW.

Does shared parental responsibility amount to both parents spending equal time with the child?

Not necessarily, however the amendments to the Family Law Act would ordinarily warrant this to be considered as a starting point in most cases. The reality is that these matters are determined on a case-by-case basis. The best interests of the child involves the child spending meaningful time with both parents, however this does not necessarily mean equal time.

How does the court define ‘parental responsibility’?

Parental responsibility refers to the day to day and long-term decisions that are made on behalf of the children. This means that the court can order shared responsibility even when equal time is not requested or ordered.

What is meant by ‘in best interests of the child’?

Under Section 60CC of the Family Law Act (1975), the primary considerations in relation to the best interests of the child include:

  • the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents 
  • the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence 

Further considerations may include:

  • the wishes of the child 
  • nature and history of the relationship the child has with each parent 
  • any practical difficulties which may arise, especially due to long-distance parenting
  • specific emotional and intellectual needs of the child which need to be considered 
  • how the communication between parents is to take place
  • availability of each parent 

How can a parent ensure they have shared custody of their child?

If both parties agree on the amount of time the child will spend with each of them, they can make an informal parenting plan. This plan can be a written informal arrangement. In some cases, one party might refuse to agree with the terms of the plan in the future. To avoid this scenario, you can apply for consent orders in the courts.

What are consent orders?

Consent orders formalise the existing parenting plan and make it legally enforceable. This ensures that unnecessary conflicts do not arise in the future. 

What happens if parents can’t reach an informal agreement on custody issues?

If an informal agreement cannot be reached due to differences, mediation or family dispute resolution is recommended. An accredited mediator will help parents reach an agreement.

What happens if mediation doesn’t work?

If mediation does not work, the only method is to approach the court. During the court proceeding, both parties will present their arguments on why they should receive equal or sole custody of the child. Ultimately, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child or children and make parenting orders accordingly. Parenting orders are legally binding and there are legal consequences for breaching them. This is known as ‘contravention’ of a parenting order.

Choosing a divorce lawyer in Sydney

Are you seeking an affordable divorce lawyer or need advice on custody matters? Benjamin & Robinson Lawyers have specialist accreditation status with the Law Society of New South Wales and are committed to providing the highest level of legal advice and service. Benjamin & Robinson Lawyers have decades of experience, thousands of trusted clients, 99.5% successful cases and 1099 case studies.

With offices in South Hurstville and St George, the fees are affordable and competitive. For enquiries or a quote, get in touch with us today on 02 9547 1733. You can also email us or request a consultation. Don’t leave anything to chance. Connect with our family law experts today.


Contravention of parenting orders – Legal Aid NSW

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