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Child Custody Arrangements:

Insights & FAQs regarding Child Custody

Separating from your partner is never an easy process, and when children are involved, the situation can become even more complex. Understanding the various types of child custody arrangements is crucial for ensuring the well-being of your children. In this blog, we discuss the most common custody arrangements and provide tips from Edwards Moloney Family Law to help you navigate this challenging time.

What are Child Custody arrangements?

Child custody arrangements will need to be established when separating or divorcing from a couple where children are involved. These arrangements outline each parent’s legal rights and responsibilities over their child or children. Common features include where the children will live, how they will split time between parents, and how parents will make decisions. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Child Custody arrangements need to be established
  • They will determine the rights and responsibilities of each parent.
  • The makeup of the arrangement has the best interest of the children involved.

What is the most common arrangement?

Children of separated parents generally spend the majority of their time with one parent, and the other parent will have access to the child between 3 to 5 nights per fortnight. This is known as substantial and significant care. According to the Australian Institute of Family (AIF) Studies, the most common agreement is where the mother will have majority custody and the father will have significant or substantial care. In most cases, according to the AIF, mothers will have majority custody at 45%, shared custody was the next most common group with 21%, and finally, 11% of cases involved the father having a majority share.  

Key takeaways:

  • One parent usually has the majority custody, with the other parent having substantial and significant care.
  • Mothers tend to have majority custody – Source:
  • Shared custody and cases where the father has majority custody are less common.

Child Custody Arrangements and Coming to an Agreement

When couples separate, child custody arrangements for the children must be made. In most cases, parents will decide without the use of courts and make either an oral or written document like a parenting plan. Another approach is lodging a written agreement by both parents for the approval of the court. This is known as a consent order and is legally enforceable once approved by the court. If parents cannot agree on arrangements, they are encouraged to attend voluntary mediation to reach an agreement. If no agreement can be reached, the court will decide, with the child’s best interests as the primary factor. 

 Key Takeaways

  • Parents typically establish child custody arrangements independently without court involvement.
  • A consent order is a legally enforceable agreement approved by the court.
  • If parents cannot reach an agreement, mediation is encouraged, and ultimately, the court will decide, always prioritising the child’s best interests.

The Role of the Family Law Court

If you and the other parent cannot agree on child custody arrangements, The  Family Law courts can become involved and may issue parenting orders that will be legally enforceable. Various factors are considered in determining these orders, including the child’s age, their relationship with each parent, the capacity of each parent to care for the child, and the child’s culture, religion, and school. The court must always balance the rights of each parent with the best interests of the child, which is paramount. 

 Key Takeaways

  • The Australian family law system emphasises parental responsibility. 
  • Both parents are legally responsible for long-term decisions, regardless of primary residence. 
  • The child’s best interests are at the centre of court decision-making.

Exploring Different Child Custody Arrangement Options

Various child custody arrangements can be tailored to suit the needs of each family. Some examples include:  The child lives with one parent and has consistent access to the other, with both parents sharing in major long-term decision-making. The child’s time is split equally between both parents. One parent has no access to the child. These are only examples, and countless combinations and arrangements are involved, including alternating days, weeks, weekends, school holidays, holidays, etc.

What happens in each case depends on various factors and circumstances, and the court may order different arrangements for different families and children. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Child custody arrangements can be tailored to each family’s needs. 
  • Numerous options are available for consideration. 
  • The court weighs various factors when determining custody arrangements. 
  • Edwards Moloney Family Law’s experience can help create customised arrangements for each family. 

Enhancing Child Custody Outcomes through Cooperation and Communication

Effective communication and cooperation between parents are essential for successful child custody arrangements. This can help minimise conflict, create a stable environment for the child, and ensure that both parents remain involved in the child’s life. Edwards Moloney Family Law encourages open communication and cooperation between parents and can provide support and guidance to help facilitate this process. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Effective communication and cooperation are crucial for successful child custody arrangements. 
  • Minimising conflict and creating a stable environment benefits the child.
  • Both parents should remain involved in the child’s life. 
  • Edwards Moloney Family Law offers support and guidance to facilitate communication and cooperation. 

Understanding and navigating child custody arrangements.

Child custody arrangements can be a complex and challenging process. At Edwards Moloney Family Law, our experienced team is committed to providing the support, information, and guidance you need to make the best decisions for your family. If you are going through a separation or require legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Accredited Family Law Specialist

Members of our senior legal team are accredited Family Law Specialists. In the legal profession an Accredited Specialist is a practising solicitor who has demonstrated specialised competence in a particular area of law and has been conferred Specialist Accreditation by the Law Society under its Specialist Accreditation Scheme. Edwards Family Lawyers is a highly experienced specialist family law firm that has 3 accredited specialists working out of our offices in Sydney CBD and North Sydney.

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When married couples separate, there is only one ground for the grant of a Divorce Order, and that is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is established by the parties being separated for a minimum of 12 months prior to Divorce. In some circumstances, parties can be living under the same roof and still be able to establish this ground.

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Edwards Moloney Family Lawyers can assist you and your spouse/partner to come to an agreement in relation to all financial matters and issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship, including the division of all assets and liabilities, spouse maintenance payments, superannuation splitting orders and child support departure Orders.

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The best interests of the children is the paramount consideration when determining the most appropriate and suitable arrangements for the children after a separation. At Edwards Moloney Family Lawyers, we encourage our clients to participate in the counselling or mediation services available to assist them to reach an agreement with their spouse/former partner

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Edwards Moloney Family Lawyers offer Mediation Services to assist parties to engage in effective dispute resolution. Our Principal, Frances Edwards, has extensive experience in negotiating settlements in both parenting and property matters, and is a National Accredited Mediator and member of LEADR and IAMA.

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De Facto couples (including same sex couples) who separate after 1 March 2009 have the same rights as married couples. The rights and obligations of couples upon the breakdown of a Marriage or De Facto relationship are now all governed by the Family Law Act 1975. De Facto couples who separated prior to 1 March 2009 are still covered by the old State legislation


We are a leading family law firm in Sydney with over 30 years of award-winning experience in matters relating to complex family law matters. We are a full-service family law firm with a rich history of helping clients with complex property settlements, divorce law, divorce negotiations, child custody and mediation services. Our law firm has a strong focus on providing expert specialist advice relating to Family Law following the breakdown of your marriage or de facto relationship.

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