Do we need to have equal custody of our child?

The most common question we’re asked during child custody matters is whether both parents share the children for an equal amount of time each week, month, or year. The simple answer: not necessarily.

There is no law in Australia that directly states that children must spend the same amount of time with each parent after their parents separate. However, the law does state that both parents have an equal shared responsibility of their children in terms of duties and powers until the children are 18 years of age. This means that both parents must consult with each other before major decisions are made in a child’s life. For example, decisions about where the child goes to school, the religion (if any) the child practices, arrangements with extended family members, and types of medical treatment that may be required (such as dental braces).

When we talk about equal shared parental responsibility, it means that both parents have the right to have input in the important decisions that affect their children. Therefore, decisions should be made in consultation with each other, rather than one parent making choices alone. Equal shared parental responsibility is not the same as equal shared care. When it comes to spending time with each parent, the law will consider what is in the best interests of the child as well as what is reasonably practicable. This may mean that the time is equally split, but it will be decided on a case-by-case basis and should not be assumed.


Have more questions?
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Child looking at parents during a shared custody matter
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