Father’s Rights: Child Custody Rights for Fathers

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Certainly one of the most distressing things for fathers on the breakup of a marriage or de facto relationship, is the risk of losing contact with their children. Child custody for fathers can be a minefield. It’s a concern that the Owen Hodge divorce lawyers in Sydney hear all the time. This blog aims to provide guidance and offer practical advice to help fathers assert their custody rights effectively. Read on to learn more about fathers rights or get in touch with our experienced team of family lawyers now.

child custody rights for fathers


  1. Establish paternity
  2. Maintain an ongoing relationship with children
  3. Spend time with children on a regular basis
  4. Share in major decisions
  5. Prevent a third-party adoption

What is the family law act for custody rights?

The Family Law Act of 1975 does not speak in terms of father’s rights or mother’s rights, but of the rights of children to:

  • protection from physical or psychological harm
  • the meaningful involvement of both parents in their lives

All in all, your ability to remain meaningfully involved in your children’s lives will likely depend on  two factors – the cooperation of your former spouse or partner and your ability to agree on parenting arrangements that allow the children to spend as much time with each parent.

Failing that, you may need to seek legal intervention and issue court proceedings to protect your father’s rights and ability to share parental responsibility.

Child custody for fathers: what are my rights as a father in Australia?

It may be helpful to reduce father’s rights to a broadly inclusive list. Child custody rights for fathers generally include the right to:

1. Establish paternity

At the end of a marriage, this is often not an issue, as the mother’s husband is generally presumed to be the father of the child. However, in an unmarried relationship, this can be necessary. It is the threshold issue on which many other rights depend, although adoptive fathers and stepfathers may also have rights.

2. Maintain an ongoing relationship with the children

This can mean many things beyond visitation and custody, including phone contact and participation in school and community activities. Regular communication, quality time spent together, and active involvement in their lives create a strong foundation of trust and support, which will help in child custody cases.

3. Spend time with the children on a regular basis

Note that this does not necessarily mean equal time. Studies suggest that very young children require close contact with their mother that should only be briefly interrupted. In case you have never met an adolescent or do not recall having ever been one, they often want to have a great deal of input into where and with whom they spend their time.

4. Share in major life decisions

If you have equal shared legal custody of your children, you have the right to participate in decisions about things like education, religion and medical care. However, please note that courts are reluctant to grant joint legal custody where parents do not have a good history of collaborative decision making – a characteristic of many estranged couples.

5. To prevent a third-party adoption

One of your father’s rights is that you’re able to prevent the child being adopted by somebody else. By maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship and actively involving both parents in the child’s life, this will help to reduce the likelihood of third-party intervention. By being proactive and taking the necessary precautions, parents can safeguard their family and ensure the continued well-being of their children.

Finally, the children have a right to continued financial support, or “child support”, which you will have the corresponding obligation to provide. If you have any specific questions about this, you should speak to one of our child support lawyers.

How to protect your paternal rights in Australia

No rights are absolute, and if you have been absent from your children’s lives for some time, it may be difficult to persuade either your ex or a court that you should be able to exercise the privilege to participate in your children’s lives. Your father’s rights can also be forfeited or curtailed in the event of family violence, drug or alcohol abuse or violation of a parenting order.

The best way to protect your children’s rights is to develop a shared parenting plan before disputes arise. Find out more about what is a parenting plan vs. a consent order on our blog. Stick to it religiously, always keep children out of conflicts with their mother and continue to show love and support for them no matter what difficulties may arise. It’s all about acting in the best interests of the child.

Get professional legal advice from the family lawyers at Owen Hodge

Ready to protect your child custody rights as a father? Contact Owen Hodge Lawyers today and let our experienced team of family lawyers ensure a fair outcome that considers father’s rights. Don’t wait, take action now and secure the best future for you and your children. Please call us to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780 or contact us online and let us guide you through the legal process.

Child custody rights for fathers: FAQs

No, a mother cannot deny a father visitation rights with their child, unless it has been determined by the court to not be in the child’s best interest. For more information about father custody rights, please contact a family lawyer at Owen Hodge today.

There is no amount of time where a father has to be absent to lose his rights in Australia.

Although the parents are sharing joint custody, child support may still be necessary if there is a large difference in income between the mother and father. If you’re unsure, please contact the family lawyers at Owen Hodge.

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