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Burning Question on Child custody – Can a Parent apply for sole custody?

One of our customers sent us a burning question about the custody of children.

I do have a question regarding family law. Our son and his wife separated almost 3 yrs ago. Cohabited for 2 yrs and have separated their households 12 moths ago. Our daughter-in-law has informed our son that she is going to apply for full custody (till now they have done 7 days alternatively) as she feels she is the better parent. Our question is does she have to prove this – our son has provided a nice home where they each (3 kids aged 14, 10 and 6) have their room and his work allows him to work school hours the week they are with him
Some pointers would be appreciated

Thanks for your email. Just remember I’m not a lawyer so not only am I not qualified to give legal advice, and child custody matters are not something I’m involved with as a general rule – However I’ll give you what I know based on my expereince over the last 12 years and the guidelines that the family Law Act provide.

When a court makes a decision about parenting arrangements, the Family Law Act requires it to regard the best interests of the child as the most important consideration. One partner saying they are a better
parent is subjective and certainly no reason to deny children the benefit of two loving Parents.

The Family Law Act focuses on the rights of children and the responsibilities that each parent has towards their children, rather than on parental rights. The Act aims to ensure that children can enjoy a meaningful relationship with each of their parents, and are protected from harm.

The Family Law Act makes clear that:

• both parents are responsible for the care and welfare of their children until the children reach 18, and
• there is a presumption that arrangements which involve shared responsibilities and cooperation between the parents are in the best interests of the child.

Before you can apply to the court for parenting orders, including those seeking to change an existing parenting order you will need to participate in pre-action procedures, including attending a Family Dispute Resolution Conference.

Resolving issues this way is less formal than going to court and should cost less in money, time and emotion. Since both parties are involved in shaping a solution, it improves the chances that an agreement will be long lasting.

If there is a history of family violence or child abuse, it may not be appropriate to attend family dispute resolution. Speak to staff at the family dispute resolution service about your options and the support services that are available.

I would think , In order for you daughter in law to be successful with such a request she would be required to demonstrate a history of family violence or the children were at risk of child abuse.

You can find plenty of information re children’s matter and parenting orders on the family courts web site.

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