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Child Custody Arrangements
07 May 2024

Mapping Out the Mainstream: Unraveling the Top Child Custody Arrangements

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 07 May 2024
Child Custody

Parents often find divorce or separation mentally challenging. Putting your kid’s care and well-being first is essential throughout this process. Child custody agreements provide where your kids will live, who will make parental decisions, and how much time they’ll spend with both parents. There are several sorts of child custody agreements offered in Australia for attention. Knowing these agreements and their legal details is vital for allowing you to arrive at choices in the children’s most beneficial interests.

The Kinds of Child Custody Agreements

Shared, sole, joint, and split custody are the four primary types into which Australian child custody arrangements can be divided. Each arrangement has advantages and weaknesses; the best one for the family depends on its precise condition. It is essential to recognise that the Family Law Act of 1975 supports shared parental responsibility, which means that regardless of the proper custody arrangement, each parent is encouraged to be active in their children’s development.

Legal Factors to Consider in Child Custody Arrangements

When the Family Court determines child custody arrangements, it considers several aspects of securing the child’s best welfare. These factors include the child’s age and developmental needs, each parent’s ability to meet the child’s biological and emotional necessities, the child’s bond with each parent, any past instances of family brutality or abuse, and the child’s views, among other concerns. The Court’s objective is to set secure and nurturing surroundings for the child, prioritising their safety, interest, and best welfare, thereby instilling confidence in the Court’s determinations.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Most Common Child Custody Arrangements 

Child custody arrangements often termed parenting arrangements, involve parents or the Court crafting different plans for childcare following separation.

Here are a few child custody arrangements that parents commonly use:

  • Alternate Weekend: Shared Custody

Most people typically envision this joint custody arrangement. In this setup, one parent has the children every alternate weekend, usually from Friday after school until Sunday evening or Monday morning. This approach has declined in popularity over the years because it often leads to one parent being seen as the ‘fun parent’ while the other parent’s relationship with the children becomes imbalanced.

  • Joint Custody Plan: Alternate Weeks

Every week, the parents ferry the kids between their separate homes where they live after separation.

Changes typically happen on weekends. While it might be difficult for some families to spend a week with just one parent, this setup confirms the children acquire around equal time with both parents. The parents must reside reasonably close to each other so that the children can access the same extracurricular activities, friends, and schools.

  • Weeks that Alternate with a Visit

In this scenario, families can set a plan for each parent to visit the children during their off-week. For instance, if the children were picked up by their father on Sunday evening and dwelled with him for the week, their mother would visit on Wednesday afternoon. Likewise, the same arrangement would occur when the kids remained at their mother’s house.

This arrangement can be helpful for younger children. For this shared custody arrangement, the parents must live close to each other. Therefore, the essential driving or travel time must be assessed.

  • School Holidays

Parents living far apart may need to organise for one parent to care for the children during the school term. In contrast, the other parent takes care of them during school holidays. Each family alternatingly decides how to manage holidays like Christmas and New Year, usually well in advance. There needs to be a single correct method for handling joint custody.

Changes to the regular custody routine may occur during school holidays, and families can choose how much time children spend with each parent. Making decisions based on the children’s best interests is crucial in custody agreements. A mediation service such as Relationships Australia might assist in reaching a consensus on your child custody arrangement. Ensuring a smooth and easy transition to joint custody is essential for the children’s well-being.

  • Two-Two-Three

Remember that a week-by-week custody schedule isn’t the sole choice. With a two-to-three custody schedule, children spend Monday and Tuesday with one parent, Wednesday and Thursday with the other, and return to the first parent for a three-day weekend, alternating weekly. The feasibility of this option hinges on the children’s age and the potential stress of frequent home transitions. Such brief stays with each parent are most suitable for ex-partners residing nearby. Otherwise, travel time would significantly accumulate.

  • Parents are Moving In and Out of the Children’s House

The above scenarios require the children to have two equipped bedrooms with necessities, from clothes and school uniforms to books and phone chargers. While the two-house arrangement fits many families, consider an alternative where the children have their permanent residence, with parents alternating their weekly stays. Some parents buy or rent a home for their children to live in perpetually. At the same time, they move in and out every week, spending half their time in another dwelling. This approach may offer the children peace and eradicate issues associated with operating two separate homes, such as accidentally departing homework at one parent’s house.

  • Considerations for Australian Child Custody Arrangements

Families possess distinct needs, so custody schedules should be tailored effectively to children’s and parents’ lifestyles. The goal is to minimise disruption in the children’s lives as much as possible. Typically, individuals will adapt custody schedules based on the child’s age. Organising a child custody schedule by age enables parents to consider their children’s evolving needs and routines and adjust them as the child grows older.

  • Age-based Child Custody Agreements in Australia

Child custody arrangements are typically organised around five tiers based on the child’s age. While there’s no fixed rule, a general guide is as follows:

    • Infants aged 0-1 year should spend frequent, short periods (2 or 3 times per week) with the non-primary carer, lasting 1 to 3 hours.
    • Toddlers aged 1-2 years can gradually spend more extended periods (2 to 6 hours) with the non-primary carer.
    • Children aged 2-3 years may begin to stay overnight once a week with the non-primary carer.
    • For children aged 3-4 years, staying 2-3 consecutive overnights with the non-primary carer might be appropriate.
    • Children aged five years and older can progressively transition to spending 4-7 consecutive nights with the non-primary carer.

    Age-based Child Custody Agreements in Australia
    The best custody arrangements for toddlers involve living primarily with one parent and spending frequent time with the other, slowly rising to one overnight stay per week. It’s vital to acknowledge that there may be better arrangements across Australia, as each child’s needs vary. Parents should evaluate how their toddler is coping with the arrangement.

    Additionally, custody schedules must be flexible to accommodate the toddler’s extracurricular activities and school hours, such as weekly music practices or Saturday morning sports. While flexible working hours for parents would be advantageous, this is only possible for some families.

    Moreover, custody schedules must also consider the parents’ work hours and the trip time between work, home, and their ex-partner’s dwelling.


    By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

    Factors Included by the Family Court in Custody Agreements

    The Family Court evaluates an array of factors before determining child custody agreements. A child’s age and developmental needs are considered, along with any history of violence or abuse in the family. The child’s wishes, if expressible, are also taken into account. The relationship between the child and each parent is evaluated, as well as the parent’s ability to provide a secure and stable environment. The primary objective of the Court is always the child’s best interests. Therefore, custody agreements must prioritize the child’s well-being and happiness.

    How to Create  Parenting Agreements

    Parenting agreements are legal documents describing each parent’s arrangements and duties concerning the upkeep and upbringing of their children. Preparing a parenting agreement requires thoughtful reflection on the child’s residence, education, healthcare, and visitation plans. It is a must to consult with a family lawyer specialising in child custody arrangements to confirm that your parenting agreement is thorough, honest, and in the best interest of your children.

    How to get full custody of the child

    Pursuing full custody of a child is an important choice that needs to be thought of carefully. You must understand the regulations and considerations. You must defend what you say with proof if you believe asking for full custody is in your child’s most significant interest. This could involve proving the other parents are not capable of giving a kid the care they need or providing proof of violence or abuse in the family. You can understand the legal maze and protect your kid’s interests by talking with a family lawyer who focuses on child custody cases.

    Recognising your custody rights and responsibilities

    Parents experiencing a separation or divorce must grasp the significance of custody rights and duties. In Australia, parents hold equivalent shared parental duty, entailing joint decision-making on essential aspects like education, healthcare, and religion. Prioritising the children’s interests remains paramount despite potential differences in custody arrangements. Collaborative efforts between parents are vital in setting a nurturing and agreeing atmosphere for their children.

    Need help dealing with joint child custody arrangements?

    Feel free to call us at (07) 4847 0198 or online to schedule a discounted initial consultation with one of our experienced Mackay Family Lawyers. During this consultation, you can receive advice regarding the best joint child custody arrangement for you and your children and guidance on achieving your desired outcome.


    By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.


    In Australia, how can I obtain child custody?

    Consult a family lawyer for legal guidance on acquiring custody of your child in Australia. Participate in family conflict resolution, collect proof, apply to the Court, and be actively employed in court proceedings. Await the Court’s judgment on sole custody.

    What is the father’s plan for visiting his child in Australia?

    In Australia, the father’s opportunity to spend time with the child must be assured. This is typically specified in parenting plans or court orders. These arrangements prioritise the child’s best interests and address any safety concerns.

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