Navigating the complex and emotionally charged world of divorce is challenging enough, but when children are involved, the situation becomes even more intricate. 

In this piece, we'll explore parental rights and responsibilities following a divorce and how to best navigate this new territory.

The Fundamentals of Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Divorce signifies the end of a relationship between two people. Yet, the bond with children endures. Parental rights and responsibilities remain significant and demand mutual cooperation for the wellbeing of the child.

Parental rights refer to the legal authority granted to parents over their child's upbringing. It includes decisions about education, health, and welfare. Parental responsibilities, conversely, encompass the obligation to care for and maintain the child's wellbeing, both physically and emotionally.

Best Interests of the Child: A Paramount Consideration

In Australian family law, the best interests of the child are considered paramount. This principle guides every decision-making process, with an emphasis on protecting the child from physical and psychological harm, and providing for the child's needs, both material and emotional.

The Concept of Shared Parental Responsibility

Shared parental responsibility does not necessarily mean an equal division of time. Instead, it underscores the importance of both parents participating in significant long-term decisions concerning their child. The aim is to ensure that children have the benefit of both parents being involved in their lives, to the maximum extent consistent with their best interests.

Understanding the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custodianship

Divorced parents must distinguish between legal custodianship and physical custodianship. Legal custodianship refers to who has the right to make important decisions about the child's life, while physical custodianship pertains to whom the child will live with. Parents can have joint legal and physical custodianship, or these rights can be allocated to one parent exclusively, depending on the circumstances.

Visitation Rights: Maintaining Parent-Child Relationships

In cases where one parent has sole physical custodianship, the non-custodial parent usually has visitation rights. These rights ensure that the child maintains a healthy relationship with both parents, despite the changed family dynamics.

Consent Orders: Formalising Parental Agreements

After a divorce, parents can agree on arrangements regarding the children which your dedicated divorce lawyer can help you with. These arrangements can be formalised into consent orders if both parties agree. These orders provide a legal framework for shared responsibilities, reducing potential future disputes.

Child Support: Financial Responsibilities Post-Divorce

Parents have a financial responsibility to their children, irrespective of the marital relationship. In Australia, child support is typically calculated based on the income of both parents, the number of children, and the time the child spends with each parent.

Adapting to Changes: Emotional Responsibilities

The emotional wellbeing of children post-divorce cannot be understated. Parents must learn to separate marital discord from parental responsibilities and strive to provide a stable, nurturing environment for their child.

The Role of Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution

Disputes about parental rights and responsibilities can be emotionally draining and complex. Mediation or family dispute resolution services can help navigate these disputes, focusing on open communication and resolution that serves the child's best interests.


Understanding parental rights and responsibilities after a divorce can be a labyrinthine task. Yet, through mutual cooperation, shared understanding, and prioritising the child's best interests, parents can navigate this new chapter in their lives. Remember, a divorce ends a marriage, not the enduring bond and responsibilities towards your children. With resilience and understanding, families can forge a new, positive path forward.