If you intend to seek full custody of children there are some things you should know. The first one is that the term “full custody” can make judges on many occasions very unhappy. There were amendments to the Family Law Act that say the word “custody” is not to be used regarding children. The law is structured in a way to prioritise the interests of the children, and therefore the terms “live with” and “spend time with” are used.
Basically, full custody means that the child or children live with a parent and spend no time with the other parent. Arrangements of this type are relatively uncommon, as usually, it will be in the best interests of a child to spend some time with each parent.
The Family Law Act says that one of the two main considerations is to encourage the children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. The other main consideration, which is also the highest priority, is protecting children from a risk of harm.
Therefore, if there is a very serious risk of harm to children as a result of child abuse, serious family violence, substantial drug/alcohol abuse, or otherwise, there may be an Order made that the children live with one parent and spend no time with the other parent.
The Courts will take the approach that children can spend time with both parents if there are appropriate safeguards that can be put in place to ameliorate or reduce risk to the children. A common example of safeguard type orders is supervised contact or ongoing drug testing of a parent.
Sometimes events happen when a child is living in a parent’s household that show a strong reason for a change of residence to live with the other parent. When considering a major change in the life of a child it is important to think about how this will affect the child and what can be done to make the change easier for them. It is recommended that legal advice be obtained prior to making any major decisions such as changing residence without the agreement of the other parent.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues further please do not hesitate to contact our family law team on 13 58 28 for a free initial consultation.