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What is the Most Common Child Custody Arrangement?

What is the Most Common Child Custody Arrangement?

Child custody arrangements are normally something that is agreed upon by parents when they separate.

The arrangements for children are an important part of a family separation, and understanding the most common child custody arrangement can be valuable in navigating the process.

At Justice Family Lawyers, we know how important it is to break down the complexity of family law when it comes to making decisions that are best for you and your family.


Quick Summary


  1. Children of separated parents generally spend the majority of their time with one parent, and the other parent will have access to the child between 3 to 5 nights per fortnight. This is called substantial and significant care.
  2. The second most common child custody arrangement is usually equalt time, which involves both parents having equal care of a child.
  3. The amount of nights each parent has with a child does not effect parental responsiblity – which is the ability to make long term decisions of a child.

Where it can be difficult to agree on child custody arrangements

When couples separate, child custody arrangements for the children must be made.

If both parents agree on all arrangements for the children, this can be recorded in ‘Consent Orders’, filed to the court and legally enforceable.

If there is any dispute about the arrangements for the children, the parents are encouraged to attend voluntary and free mediation to reach an agreement. If the parents cannot agree, or have attended and not reached an agreement, the court will decide. The primary factor the court will consider when making orders is the best interests of the child.

What are the most common child custody arrangements?

The most common arrangement for parents with children, is what is known as substantial and significant time.

This means that the child lives with one parent, and spends 3 – 5 nights per fortnight with the other parent.

Equal and shared parental responsiblity means that each parent has equal input into making long term decisions of the child.

In most cases, though, it usually refers to one parent having the primary residence of the child, with the other parent having access.

The family law court

If you can’t agree with the other parent about your child custody arrangements, the court will consider many factors in making parenting orders, such as the child’s age, the child’s relationship with each parent, the capacity of each parent to care for the child, and the child’s culture, religion and which school they are attending.

It is important to note, however, that the court must always balance the rights of each parent with the best interests of the child – and this is paramount, always.

Parental responsibility

The family law system in Australia is based on an understanding of parental responsibility, rather than the traditional ‘custody’ of a parent.

This means that both parents are legally responsible for the major long-term decisions about the welfare of the child, although one may have the primary residence of the child, as stated above.

It is important to remember that the court will always place the best interests of the child at the centre of all decision-making when it comes to arrangements for the child.


Example of common child custody arrangements

Some examples of common child custody arrangements are;

  • Having the child live with one parent and have the other parent have consistent access. This arrangement will also include both parents sharing in major long-term decision-making.
  • Splitting the time that the child spends with each parent equally.
  • Having no access to a child.

These are examples only, and there are countless combinations and arrangements the court will determine. What will happen in each case can depend on many factors, and the court may be more likely to order certain things for different families and for different children.


the most common child custody arrangement

What does a 50/50 arrangement with my child look like?

Many separated parents are left wondering what a 50/50 parenting time with their children will look like.

The answer to this question is again complex, as each family is different, but what it means for your family could be explained in the following way.

This could be by way of week on/week off, or perhaps where the child spend equal amount of time between both parents.

Most parents agree to share major long-term decision-making equally. Depending on the age of your child, this may also be a preferred child custody arrangement.


What is best for your family?

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 that are needed in order to make the best decision for them and their family. Knowing what the most common child custody arrangement is, can help you make informed decisions in the best interest of your family.

If you are going through a separation, or are in need of 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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