Last updated 5 September 2022

Parental Responsibilitiesclick to download a pdf of this chapter
Parentage and Naming Children
Punishment and Discipline of Children
Children and Marriage
Children, Sex and Contraception
Medical Treatment of Children

Australia’s Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (Family Law Act) Part VII governs the legal approach to the relations between parents and children. The law focuses on the important responsibility of parents and other adults for the care, welfare and development of children, not any rights of adults over children. The legal concepts of custody and guardianship of children do not apply in the family law context, however, those concepts are still applicable to proceedings in the Queensland state child protection jurisdiction.

The Family Law Act emphasises the duties and responsibilities of parents. The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia encourages agreement between parents concerning the best interests of a child. The federal government has invested in the community-based family safety risk screening, family counselling and family dispute resolution systems to consolidate this approach.

The Family Law Act provides that, subject to an order of a court, each of the parents of a child has parental responsibility for that child (s 61 C Family Law Act).

Every child, regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived together, is affected by the Family Law Act, as long as the child, a parent or other party to the proceedings has a sufficient connection with Australia. The child, parent or other party must be an Australian citizen or ordinarily reside or be present in Australia.