Top Factors Used Determine an Unfit Parent in Australia

In Australia, there are several factors which can be used to determine if a parent is considered unfit to take care of their child.

This determination can have serious implications for the parents involved, as it can lead to them losing custody of their children.

In this article, we explain what an unfit parent in Australia is, and list some of the most common factors which are used to decide if someone is unfit to parent.


What Does Being An ‘Unfit Parent’ Mean for Custody in Australia?

In Australia, it is a well-established family law principle that children have the right to a meaningful relationship with both parents.

The Family Court tries to achieve this goal in a number of ways, for example, by creating ‘parenting orders’ which split custody of the child between the two parents.

However, there are certain circumstances in which the court may grant ‘sole parenting orders’ to one parent, which means that the other parent can be excluded from custody of the child if they are deemed an unfit parent by the court.

An order for sole parental responsibility can give one parent complete responsibility for some or all areas of their children’s lives, without the need to consult their former spouse. These orders can also outline that a child is to live with one parent exclusively, and that the parent can dictate the extent of the child’s contact with the former spouse.

Access to a child is typically only removed in circumstances where the child’s physical and psychological wellbeing may be at risk.


What Are Some Factors Which Can Make Someone An Unfit Parent in Australia?

When it comes to sole custody orders, the order will only disallow one parent from access to their children if it can be demonstrated that the children will be exposed to danger with that parent.

To demonstrate that someone is an unfit parent in Australia and thereby subject to being disallowed contact with their child, the Court will evaluate a number of potential factors, including the parent having:

  • A history of violence or abuse (this can be either physical or psychological)
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Serious mental health issues

If you are applying for this order, you may be asked to provide supporting materials and evidence which can include things like police reports or relevant witness statements. The court will assess these materials before making their decision.

It’s important to note that if the court has concerns about a parent, they will often make orders dictating that the parent can have contact with their child under certain conditions, would could include things like:

  • The parent having negative drug tests
  • The parent not exposing the child to specific people
  • Contact being supervised by a third person

In some cases, the Court may also appoint a psychologist to provide a report on the case and make recommendations about what would be in the best interests of the child.

It is important to remember that each case is unique, and therefore there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to determining if someone is an unfit parent in Australia. As with all parenting orders, the court will always hold the child’s interests as paramount.


Need Help With A Parenting Order or Sole Custody Order?

If you would like to apply for sole custody of your child, or find out more details about what makes someone an unfit parent in Australia, our team of family lawyers are here to help. Our team is highly experienced in all aspects of family law, from divorce & separation to property settlement and time with children. Please contact our team via email or by phone to discuss how we can assist.