Getting full child custody: Everything you need to know

child’s hand in father’s hand. Full child custody in Australia.

Australian family law presumes that parents hold equal parental responsibility, meaning that in most cases – custody is shared after a divorce or separation. However, this isn’t always the case. 

Getting full child custody in Australia is possible in some circumstances if it’s deemed to be in the child’s best interest. Here’s everything you need to know. 

What is full child custody?

Full child custody, or sole parental responsibility is when one parent can control the child’s access to the other parent (to a degree) and make all decisions around the child’s upbringing. That could include taking reasonable disciplinary measures, choosing schools, religious education and where they live. 

It’s important to note that it’s extremely rare for the court to completely deny any access to one parent – usually they are allowed supervised contact or limited visitation.

How to get full child custody in Australia

Broadly speaking there are two ways to get full child custody in Australia:

  1. If the other parent agrees to grant you sole parental responsibility you can formalise the arrangement via consent order.
  2. If the other parent doesn’t agree you’ll need to seek legal advice from a child custody lawyer and make an application to the Family Court of Australia. 

Option one is always the easiest and least stressful route, so all efforts should be made to reach a resolution outside of court. Only if that’s not possible should you proceed to option two. 

Mother throwing baby in air by sea at sunset. Full child custody in Australia.

Why do courts grant sole custody in Australia?

The court will always start with the presumption that shared custody is the best option. However, if seeing both parents is not in the child’s best interest one parent may be granted sole custody in Australia. These circumstances may include:

  • One parent with a history of domestic or family violence that may put the child at risk. 
  • Evidence of neglect from one parent such as not providing food or shelter. 
  • An unwillingness to communicate with the other parent and attempts to alienate the child from their parent. 
  • Substance or alcohol abuse that affects the parent’s ability to care for their child. 
  • Severe mental illness that affects the parent’s ability to care for their child. 

To achieve sole parental responsibility you’ll need to prove to the court that circumstances such as the above examples have occurred or are occurring, and that sole parental responsibility is in your child’s best interest.

Hiring an experienced child custody lawyer in Australia

Gaining full child custody is the exception, not the rule – but it is possible in some circumstances. However, the process can be complicated and proving that sole custody is in your child’s best interest can be difficult.

To give yourself the best possible chance of achieving a desirable result, it’s a great idea to hire an experienced child custody lawyer. 

Testart’s team of family lawyers have years of combined experience helping parents win sole custody and do what’s best for their children. We can help guide you through the entire process to make the ordeal easier and less stressful, while providing honest, expert advice. 

To get started, contact Testart Family Lawyers and book a free initial consultation.