Children and Parenting Arrangements
Resources about Children and Parenting Arrangements, including Frequently Asked Questions and useful links.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Family Law Act 1975 (the Act) governs family law in Australia. Rather than covering parental ‘rights’, the Act focuses on the child’s best interests, and the responsibilities of each parent to ensure the child’s best interests are catered for.
Where reasonable and where the child’s best interests and safety are not a concern, the Act will presume equal parental responsibility for any major decision making such as the child’s education, medical treatment, and living arrangements.
Shared responsibility for decision making does not mean equal time spent with the child.
The Act requires both parents to attempt to negotiate and agree on the amount of time each parent spends with the child. This is referred to as a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) process. If the parents cannot come to an agreed arrangement, a determination will be made by the Court and orders will be issued based on the best interests of the child.
Although still frequently used in general conversation, some commonly used terms such as “Child custody”, “child access”, “visitation”, “sole custody” and “joint custody” are no longer used in Australia following changes to Family Law made in 2007.
Instead, you will hear terms like “primary parent”, “primary carer”, “lives with” and “spends time with” throughout the process of determining new parenting arrangements for your child/children.
If you are separated from your partner, have a child under 18, and care for the child more than 35% of the time, you may be eligible for child support payments from the child’s other parent. Non parent carers may also apply for child support in certain circumstances. For more information see the following sites: