Child Custody Arrangements

Helping Families To Amicably Create Child Custody Arrangements

O’Loan Family Law helps parents by ensuring they have appropriate child custody arrangements and parenting arrangement so that their child has a safe and secure environment where they can grow and develop. These common arrangements helps ensure that both parties are able to have a role in their child’s life. It provides a structure for how the child will spend time with each parent and how decisions will be made about the child’s care. It can also help reduce conflict between the parents by establishing clear expectations and boundaries or protect the child from any potential harm that may come from conflict over custody. We’re committed to helping families achieve positive outcomes and we’re dedicated to providing high-quality legal advice and support throughout the entire child custody process. If you’d like more information about our services, please contact us today!

Child Custody Arrangements decide who has custody of the child. The courts evaluate the bests interests of the child as the paramount consideration. The family law system in Australia is based on the understanding of parent responsibility instead of the traditional concept of ‘custody’ of a parent. If you require advice on your child custody matters, we are here to help. Child custody arrangements will help you decide on a parenting arrangement plan to allocate amounts of time and with each parent and resolve parenting disputes.

Common Types of Child Custody Arrangements

There are different types of child custody arrangements and which avenue will be best for you will depend on your child custody disagreements. Different types of custody schedules can affect families and the child’s future differently. If you need any advice on child custody options, please contact our firm and our child custody lawyers will be able to assist you.

Joint Custody

A joint custody arrangement generally occurs when the parents live in different places, so the children live in between them each week based on child custody schedules. The children generally have equal time with each parent. Depending on the situation, this option provides the benefit of children and parents as there is an increased time between parents and creates strong communication channels. The children would mean there is the benefit of children having consistency and parents will make joint decisions. This level of contact would depend on if there are any allegations of family violence against a parent. Joint custody can look like your child spending time with you or your ex-partner on an alternate weekend.

Sole Custody

In sole custody, the child will reside at one parent’s address, the primary parent, full time. In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be given time with children by way of visitation rights, usually with sleepover privileges. If a parent has sole custody, then they play an active role in all major life decisions about decision about schooling, parenting expenses, religious upbringing, and moral development.

The clearest reason for sole custody is if the child faces a risk of harm, a parent facing substance abuse, and family violence.

Joint custody agreement examples include:

  • Alternating weeks
  • Alternating weeks with mid-week visit
  • Alternating weeks with a midweek overnight
  • One parent has the child during the school holidays while the other parent has the child during the school term

Full Custody

Full custody is the same as sole custody.

Split Custody

Split custody is an agreement that allows the children in a family to be split up, with some children living with each parent. Split custody allows visitation time with the children for the parent who does not live with them. This is different to joint custody when the children will live together, but in between each parent.

Legal Custody

Legal custody involves the decision of which parent has the legal custody of the child. This means that this parent has the legal right to make major decisions regarding matters that relate to that child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody involves the decision where the child will primarily live with one person. Physical custody can be single or joint.

Child Custody Arrangement Schedules By Age 

A child custody arrangement schedule is generally structured in 5 tiers

  • 0-1 years old: the child spends frequent time with the non-primary carer
  • 1-2 years old: the child spends longer time with the non-primary carer in a given time
  • 2-3 years old: the child starts doing one overnight per week with the non-primary carer
  • 3-4 years old: the child starts doing 2-3 overnights with the non-primary care
  • 5 years and up: At this point, the child is of school age. The child can start doing 4-7 consecutive nights with the non-primary carer

The most common child custody arrangements is known as substantial and significant time. This means that one child lives with one parent and then spends around 3 – 5 nights a fortnight with the other parent. Equal and shared parental responsibility means that each parent has balanced parenting responsibilities  making the day to day decisions as well as major long term issues.

Process For Making The Best Child Custody Arrangements

The Court will always consider the best interest of the child in making child custody arrangements.

Things to Consider for Child Custody Arrangements

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There are no strict rules about how parents should make an agreement to care for a child after separation. Although, here are some things that parents should consider

  • the age of the child,
  • Domestic violence and family violence allegations,
  • If there are any medical issues,
  • Cultural matters pertaining to the child,
  • educational needs, and
  • practical considerations.

Deciding Children’s Best Interests

The Court will always evaluate the child’s best interests as the paramount consideration in determining whether and which parent will have regular contact and frequent contact on a personalised basis. The court will evaluate several factors such as:

  • The home environment that each parent offers and the ability for the parent to have a meaningful relationship,
  • The risk of psychological harm and child abuse,
  • The ability of each parent to have a meaningful involvement.

Parenting Plans

a parenting plan is a parenting agreement over your parenting matter where family lawyers help you create a parenting schedule that works around any parenting issues and complex issues that you have with your ex-partner. Family law advice is integral to making a parenting plan and maintaining an amicable relationship with your child and ex-partner. Having an agreement in writing is important to ensure parenting arrangements are effective.

A parenting plan can cover the following primary considerations:

  • who the child will live with including the primary residence,
  • how and when the child will spend with each parent,
  • who pays for medical treatment,
  • How everyday expenses will be covered,
  • The child’s cultural or religious needs,
  • Arrangements,
  • Special occasions arrangements,
  • when the child will see extended family,
  • if there is a weekend parent,
  • who the primary parent during school holiday is,
  • which parent will pay for medical care,
  • If one parent will have exclusive responsibility,
  • Who picks up your child from school,
  • If child support payments are an option and the level of child support.

Parenting Orders

Parenting orders gives one or both parents the authority to make a decision about arrangements for children and major long-term decisions. This includes decisions like what the children will do during the school holidays, extra-curricular activities and daily routine. Parenting orders also highlight the responsibilities in relation to the child. Parents are obliged to do everything a parenting order says. The order remains in force until a new parenting order comes into play. A family court parenting order can be obtained by consent or by court order in the family law courts.

Child Custody Agreements

A child custody agreement is similar to a parenting plan. The child custody agreement generally looks at parenting time, meaning which parent will take care of the child for a majority of the time. The parenting plan determines specifically when each parent will spend time with the children and where.

Consent Orders

Consent orders are the orders made by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia by the consent of you and your ex-partner, without the need for court proceedings. If you and your ex-partner can reach an amicable agreement about future arrangements, then you should seek advice from a lawyer about a consent order. You will need to consider financial contributions from you and your ex-partner, inheritances, and non-financial contributions,

A parenting order is a set of orders made by a court about care arrangements for a child. This binding and enforceable agreement. You can apply to the court for a parenting order to be made by agreement. These are called consent orders.

Applying For A Consent Order

Information is available on the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website. The FCFOA has a Consent Orders Kit that provides the step-by step instructions to seeking Consent Orders.

The main steps involved are:

  1. Fill in the orders you seek to in a proposed orders by consent
  2. Complete the Application for Consent Orders in the kit below
  3. Sign every page
  4. Ensure to complete the Statements of Truth
  5. File the application on the Commonwealth Courts Portal

For more information on the consent order document and procedure, please find this link: Application for Consent Orders (

Get Legal Support

Legal advice is essential throughout the divorce process. Whether it’s related to child custody, parenting arrangements, or financial matters, a divorce lawyer will have a wealth of knowledge and can provide you with the legal guidance you need. O’Loan Family Law’ legal services can help you understand the legal terms and procedures involved in divorce proceedings and address any of your legal concerns and major issues. We have extensive experience to provide you with advice about marriage breakdown and provide you with a pleasing outcome. Our highly experienced lawyers will help you through this difficult period with compassion and care. Get in contact with our Family Law Team if you would like to schedule in a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.

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