Here are the rules in Victoria in relation to child custody (residence) and access (time spent):
• Custody is known as ‘residence’ of a child, a term coined in child custody laws.
• The appropriate division of time a child spends with each parent is formulated by applying a test, but overarching that test is the need to ensure that a child has a meaningful relationship with each parent, and that the child is protected from child abuse and family violence
• The family court presumes that each parent (being the biological parents) of the child has equal shared parental responsibility
• Parental responsibility means making major decisions about the child’s welfare, such as, where the children live, their religion, health and education
• The presumption can be rebutted where there is evidence of child abuse or it is not in the best interests of the children
• If the presumption applies, the court must consider whether it is in the best interests of the child or reasonably practicable that the child should spend equal time with both their parents
• If it is not reasonably practicable or in the best interests of the child for equal time, the court must then consider whether the child should spend substantial and significant time with the non-residential parent
• Substantial and significant time means that the non-residential parent is involved in the child’s routine, usually on special days and outside of each alternate weekend Friday to Sunday evening
• If it is not reasonably practicable or in the best interests of the child to spend substantial and significant time with the non-residential parent, the default position of each alternate weekend Friday to Sunday evening may apply.
Every divorce is different and we have represented many clients with complex child custody disputes. These trials in family court can be challenging. However, not all disagreements need to reach court. Family Dispute Resolution can often be a useful way to address and resolve conflicts, particularly in cases involving child custody issues. You can learn more about this process in our blog post on ‘Family Dispute Resolution‘.
With a deep understanding of the Family Law Act and child custody laws, we are well-equipped to navigate these issues.Contact us if you want to speak with an accredited family lawyer in Northcote or the surrounding suburbs.
Rowan Skinner is a highly skilled family lawyer with over 35 years of experience across various legal roles and jurisdictions. Rowan specialises in resolving family law disputes such as divorce, financial settlements, child custody and domestic violence cases. Through his diverse and extensive experience, Rowan has a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances involved in family law. Rowan is a skilled negotiator and litigator who follows a compassionate and client-focused approach which prioritises helping you navigate what can be an emotional and challenging time.