Myths on Child Custody
“Courts will Favor the Mother”
This is untrue.
There is nothing that has been written in the family law of Australia that will give mothers the advantage over the father in child custody issues.
The mothers may end up with a higher percentage of time spent with the child but there is nothing in the laws that states this will happen in all cases.
Families with younger children often have the father working and the mother taking care of the child. If this is true the child will have a strong attachment to the mother. If the parents want to divorce the court will look at the attachment right after the separation. Arrangements will be able to keep the child in a stable home and disrupt their life as little as possible while making sure both parents can see the child.
Many fathers have a higher percentage of time with the children and fathers have been granted full custody. This is decided on a case by case basis.
“Parents have the right to their children”
Parents have no right to their children. They have obligations and they need to support the child. There is no basic right saying they need to spend time with them. Children are the ones with the rights.
A child has the right to develop a relationship with both parents. The parents need to encourage the child to be around the other parent as long as it is safe.
If one parent is not paying child support the other parent does not have to encourage the child to have a relationship with them.
This is also untrue.
If one parent is not paying child support this should be handled by the court. The parent still can have a relationship with their child.
If the child is safe they should have access to both parents. Child support is an issue between the parents and not an issue between the parent and the child. The child should not be used as a negotiation tool for payments.
When a child is 12 they can decide what parent they want to live with.
There is some truth behind this.
No law says at a specific age a child can say what parent they are living with and determine their visitation arrangements.
Around the age of 12, a child will want to see one parent more or refuse to see the parent. It will determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the child.
Parents may agree with what the child wants while others may want to hold to the current arrangement. The court will need to decide what is in the best interest of the child. They will not make a new arrangement right away. They may need evidence for changes to be made.
Some evidence that the court will accept is a family report. A family report is written by a neutral party such as a social worker that has recommendations to the court. This will recommend the arrangement the courts should follow. Both parents will be interviewed separately and the child will be observed with each parent. The child will be interviews and older children will be able to express their wishes.
The wishes of the child will be included in the Family Report. The court experts may recommend the child report if an older child has expressed their wishes to live with one parent the majority of the time.
When a mature child states they do not want to spend a week on and a week off with the parents but would rather live with one parent and see the other parent on weekends for example this will be included in the Family Report and the court will review this document. This document does carry weight in court since it is written by an expert that is a neutral party. The child’s views may decide the recommendation that the court will make as a result of the family report.
When a child reaches the age of 12 they can express their wishes to live with one parent and this is included in the family report. By the age of 12, the child is thought of to be mature when it comes to living arrangements with their parents.
For more information around family law, visit this legal website.