What are the rules about child custody and access

Here are the rules in Victoria in relation to child custody (residence) and access (time spent)?

  • Custody is known as ‘residence’ of a child
  • 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 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 each of the 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 difficult child custody disputes. Contact us if you want to speak with an accredited family lawyer in Northcote or the surrounding suburbs.


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