When a couple decides to separate and no longer live together, the law encourages both the mother and father to agree to a parenting arrangement that’s in the best interest of the child.

When the thought of a post-separation parenting plan comes to mind, many people jump to the conclusion that the mother will gain full custody of the children. And the father will be limited to only seeing their loved ones on weekends – or even not at all.

Fortunately, this misconception could not be further from the truth.

Here’s everything you need to know about creating a parenting arrangement, and the legal rights of fathers after a separation.

Creating a Parenting Arrangement

The reality is the Family Law Act 1975 has a strong focus on the rights of children. And the law encourages former couples to create a parenting plan, one where the child can enjoy a meaningful relationship with both parents – given they are safe from physical and psychological harm.

If both parties can reach an agreement on their own, they can choose to make an informal pact, or establish the terms and conditions in writing with a parenting plan or consent order. Keep in mind a parenting plan is not a legally enforceable agreement, but on the plus side you don’t have to go to court to create one.

What if both parties cannot reach an agreement on their own?

They can then try family dispute resolution.

If family dispute resolution does not work, the next logical step is to apply to the family law courts and ask for a consent order. The terms of the consent order can be made with help from the parents, or the final decision can be made by the courts after a hearing or trial.

Legal Rights of Fathers

Many divorced fathers fear that they may not be able to spend as much or any time with their children.

The good news is that each case is unique. And that means, if the courts do need to get involved, they take a lot of factors into account to decide how to create a suitable parenting arrangement.

Perhaps the most crucial goal of the courts is to protect the child from physical and psychological harm. Their second goal is to help the child enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents.

But if it’s not possible to achieve a peaceful balance between the two, here are a few details the courts will take into account to reach a decision:

  • The kind of relationship the child has with each parent, along with extended family or other significant people.
  • The personal views of the child. Of course, this only applies if the child is mature enough to understand the situation. Regardless, the child is never forced to share their own opinion of the situation, only if they volunteer to contribute.
  • Whether both parents are equally able to financially support the child.
  • How involved each parent is in regards to important, long-term decisions that affect the child.
  • How much time each parent previously has (or has not) spent with the child.
  • How practical it is for each parent to spend time with the child. For example, if one parent lives significantly further away from the child than the other, this may impact how much time the child spends with each parent.

Talk to the Experts

Of course, these are just a few considerations the courts will think about. Every modern family is unique and that means some of the above-mentioned factors may not apply. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to seek tailored legal advice.

If you are currently dealing with a divorce or separation where children are involved, get in touch with a licensed family lawyer.

They can assess your circumstances, advise you on your legal rights, and give you practical steps on how to reach the best possible outcome.

Even if you have to attend court, a family lawyer will know how to guide you through the process and help you achieve a satisfactory result.

What do you think the father’s rights should be after a separation? Tell us in the comments below.


  • Speaking first hand, being deprived of a parent can be heart-breaking. Children are the innocent victims of parents separation, foster love, care and the child’s best interest.


  • Some good advice here. So sad when the kids are denied seeing one of their parents. Unless of course, there is abuse or similar circumstances. Each situation is unique but should be looked at as a whole and what most benefits the kid/s


  • I guess each case is different and has to be looked at individually.


  • I think both parents should have equal rights and access to be with their kids. It should not be based on gender.


  • Hope this should be equal.Kids need both of their parents.


  • Every separation or divorce has many complications, especially if it is a nasty one. The Father should optimally get the same rights as the Mother so the child is not traumatised by the whole situation.


  • I think every situation is different. There is not a one size fits all. I’ve had friends who have worked things out well, friends who have had to flee domestic violence and ended up in refuge situations (no rights should be given to the Father); friends who try their best but the Father has been lied about, etc. So I think every situation needs to be considered on its merits.


  • Unfortunately, while father’s do have the right to see their children, whether supervised or otherwise, sometimes break ups are messy and the partner can often do everything in her power to stop it like moving to a new address and not updating. Not everyone does the right thing.

    • Definitely agree with this – my brother in law doesn’t get to see either of his kids with his ex-wife. Not because he isn’t a good day but because she decided to claim that he was abusive towards her and the kids. Even though there is no proof of this (and is made up) the courts believed her and so he has no contact with his children.
      Things definitely don’t always go in the best interests of the child!


  • Under ideal circumstances it’s in the benefit of the child that the rights of mum & dad should be equal. However sadly the circumstances aren’t always ideal, and it may not be in the benefit of the child to see dad equally much especially in the case of an abuse relationship


  • Every case is unique 100% as a child from a separated family who had no access to my biological father the choice was made in my best interests via the court system. It can be hard to understand as a child why these things happen But I was extremely happy about it. The day we got the paper work I cried tears of joy.

    In other situations they can come to the agreement that they have the children one week on one week off or every weekend ect.


  • I just hope to never be in this situation. I would never deny my children their father’s love, time and presence.


  • I think despite what caused the beef up and how hands on the father was whilst in that religion, that should not reflect on him not having any rights! If he has to parent those children on his own or with a new partner, hes going to make sure they are looked after! Children often get used during a split up and I do not agree with that at all. Shared custody should be an agreement where it works for both parents with out impacting the child. If my kids were ever put in such situation it would be shared equally to suit shift roster etc.. no arguments. Children shouldn’t suffer just because the relationship did!

    • My auto spell check really stuffed that up for me.. you get my point!

      • Yes we do and it’s true what you’re saying :)


  • I think it depends on each situation.
    If the father isn’t really hands on or there often enough then i don’t think he should have much say if he isn’t going to put in the effort.


  • I have always believed they should be equal. It is unfair on children if the Father is cut out of their lives unless domestic violence is involved.


  • My partner hasn’t seen his 3 girls (ex wife and ex gf) in over 2.5 years and not by choice. They have both blocked him every way known and cut him off from seeing them ever. They have even moved houses and he doesn’t know where the older 2 live with their mum and the younger one with her mother. Even blocked his bank account from depositing money in their accounts for their birthdays/Xmas etc

    My heart breaks for him everyday. I want my kids to meet their older sisters and I want my partners heart to be full and him to be happy again.

    Some women are cruel and don’t deserve to have the rights they do. The ones being hurt the most are the kids missing out on spending time with their dad and not having a male figure in their lives.


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