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5 Key Steps on How to Get Full Custody of Child in Australia

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The Family Law Act of 1975 in Australia says that the child’s best interests should come before anything else, so it can be hard to get full custody.

Here, we listed the 5 key steps to get full custody of your child in Australia to help you and your child move forward with your life regardless of the issues you or you both have with the other parent. These are:

  1. Understanding the Legalities
  2. Engaging a Family Law Solicitor
  3. Filing a Parenting Order Application
  4. Preparation for Court Proceedings
  5. Compliance with Court Judgments

What is Full Custody?

The term “full custody” is often used colloquially to refer to a legal arrangement where one parent has been granted the majority of or all the rights and responsibilities for raising a child. 

This term can encompass two main aspects of custody:

  • Physical Custody: This refers to where the child lives. Full physical custody means the child resides with one parent all or most of the time, and that parent is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care.
  • Legal Custody: This involves the right and responsibility to make significant decisions about the child’s life, including education, health care, and religious upbringing. Full legal custody means one parent has the exclusive right to make these decisions.

Australian family law does not use “full custody.” Instead, it uses terms other terms and orders regarding who the child lives with and how much time they spend with each parent. 

These terms more accurately reflect the responsibilities and arrangements concerning the child’s care and decision-making after a separation or divorce.

Engaging a Family Law Solicitor

Family law can be hard to understand because it is so complicated. Hiring a family law solicitor will give you the necessary knowledge and advice on how to get full custody of the child in Australia. Child custody family law solicitors can help you understand the process, prepare the necessary paperwork, and stand up for you in court, which increases your chances of getting what you want.

What are the Grounds for Full Custody of Child?

The Family Law Act emphasises the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration in making any parenting orders

Here are some grounds on which a court may consider granting one parent full custody and determining that the child should live with that parent:

  1. Risk of Harm: If there is evidence that living with or spending time with one parent would pose a risk of physical or psychological harm to the child, the court may grant the other parent sole responsibility. This can include situations involving abuse, neglect, or family violence.
  2. Inability to Provide Adequate Care: If one parent is unable to provide suitable care for the child due to issues such as substance abuse, mental health problems, or other incapacitating factors, the court may determine that the child should live with the other parent.
  3. High Conflict: If the level of conflict between the parents is so high that it affects their ability to communicate and make joint decisions for the child’s welfare, the court may grant one parent full custody to ensure stability and reduce the child’s exposure to conflict.
  4. Lack of Involvement: If one parent has been significantly less involved in the child’s life or has shown little interest in the child’s welfare, the court might find it in the child’s best interest to live with the other parent.
  5. Parental Abduction or Relocation Risks: If there’s a substantial risk that one parent might abduct the child or relocate them in a way that would prevent the other parent from maintaining a relationship with the child, the court might grant full custody to the other parent.
  6. Child’s Views: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, their views and preferences might be considered, especially if they express a strong preference to live with one parent due to legitimate concerns about their well-being with the other parent.

It’s important to note that the Australian family law system prefers to make orders that encourage both parents to be involved in their child’s life, assuming it is in the child’s best interests. 

Courts are generally reluctant to exclude one parent from a child’s life without substantial reasons. Therefore, orders for full custody and for a child to live with one parent are made carefully, considering all circumstances impacting the child’s welfare.

Also read: Child Relocation After Divorce

How to Get Full Custody of a Child Without Going to Court?

  • Attempt for Family Dispute Resolution (FDR): Engage in FDR to negotiate with the other parent and reach an agreement on the child’s living arrangements and parental responsibility.
  • Draft Parenting Plan: Document the agreement in a parenting plan, outlining the full custody terms and all care arrangements.
  • Legal Formalisation: With legal help, formalise the parenting plan into a consent order for submission to the Family Court.
  • Court Approval: Submit the consent order to the court, and upon approval, implement the legally binding full custody arrangement.

Also read: The Rewards and Challenges of Step Parent Adoption in NSW

Need Help on How to Get Full Custody of Child in Australia?

At Justice Family Lawyers, we are experienced in navigating the complexities of family law, and we understand how difficult it can be to make decisions during these times.

Our objective is to provide our clients with the support, information and guidelines to make the best decision for them and their families. Knowing the meaning of full custody can help you make informed decisions in your child’s best interest. 

If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact us today. Our experienced lawyers would be more than happy to assist with any queries you may have.

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