How Long Can a Father Be Absent to Lose Parental Rights

how long does a father have to be absent to lose his rights | Melbourne Family Lawyers

Parental rights are fundamental in ensuring the well-being and care of a child. In Australia, laws protect the rights of parents and children, but situations may arise where a father’s absence from a child’s life can lead to legal consequences.

The duration of a father’s absence is not explicitly stated in the Family Law Act 1975 as the sole determining factor in losing parental rights.

Instead, the focus is on the overall well-being of the child. If a father’s absence significantly impacts the child’s emotional, physical, or psychological well-being, the court may intervene to protect the child’s best interests.

In cases of extended absence, a court may assess the reasons behind the father’s lack of involvement.

For instance, if a father is absent due to work-related travel or military service but maintains regular communication and financial support, the court is less likely to consider it grounds for losing parental rights.

Factors Considered by the Court

When determining parental rights, the Family Court of Australia considers various factors to safeguard the child’s welfare. These may include:

  • Child’s Best Interests: The paramount consideration for the court is the child’s best interests. The court will assess how the father’s absence affects the child’s emotional and psychological development.
  • Reason for Absence: The court will examine the father’s absence and whether it was beyond his control or voluntary.
  • Level of Involvement: The court will consider the level of involvement the father had in the child’s life before the absence and the significance of that involvement.
  • Relationship with the Child: The court will evaluate the quality of the father’s relationship with the child before and during the absence.
  • Child’s Wishes: If the child is of sufficient age and maturity, their wishes and preferences may be considered.
  • Support and Communication: The court will consider whether the father has made efforts to maintain contact and support the child during the absence.

If there are concerns about a father’s absence or other issues related to parental rights, it is advisable to consult with a family law child custody expert in Australia who can provide guidance specific to the situation and the relevant legal framework.

When a Father’s Access is Denied by the Child’s Mother

Without proper legal justification, a mother cannot deny access to an absent father unilaterally.

The Family Law Act 1975 emphasises the importance of maintaining a child’s relationship with both parents, even if one has been absent.

If the father was previously granted visitation or custody rights, the mother’s actions to deny access could breach the court order.

However, if legitimate concerns exist for the child’s safety or well-being, the mother may seek legal intervention to modify the custody arrangements.

Whethery a father or a mother, one can lose custody in Australia due to child abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, parental alienation, or failing to comply with court orders.


In Australia, the length of time a father must be absent to lose his parental rights is not clearly defined. Instead, the focus lies on the child’s best interests and how the father’s absence impacts the child’s well-being.

If a father is absent from a child’s life, the court will carefully assess the situation and consider various factors before deciding parental rights.

Both parents must prioritise their child’s needs and maintain a positive and involved relationship to ensure the best outcome for their children.

Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.

8 thoughts on “How Long Can a Father Be Absent to Lose Parental Rights”

  1. Hello,
    How are you?
    Could I have informations about how father could waiver of children’s expenses , custodial and visiting to stop pay any thing for them d visiting to stop pay any thing for them
    Many thanks
    Hanan Mohsen

    1. Hi, in order to do this you will need to sign a document called a binding child support agreement and another document called an application for consent orders. If you would like more information please contact us directly, thank you!

  2. Is it possible to get a child passport, without court order, if the fathers whereabouts is unknown and hasnt had anything to do with the child in 11 years including no contact by choice for 10 years?

  3. Hi, I have a 1y/o daughter and the father left to the US 2 months ago (he is American and partner visa got cancelled) and does not intend to come back to Australia. He doesn’t pay child support and calls her fortnightly. I want sole custody to get her a German passport to live in Germany for a while. If I go through the family court how long is the process and am I allowed to leave after sole custody is granted?

    1. In cases where one parent has left the country and is not providing child support, you can apply to the Australian family court for sole parental responsibility, which would allow you to make decisions such as applying for your daughter’s German passport. The outcome and length of this family court process can vary, depending on the complexity of the case. For a more detailed understanding of the process and what you can expect, please contact us to arrange a consultation.

  4. My husband is in jail (pre-sentencing – his court case still to be heard) for 4 counts of on line child sexual abuse. Do I still need his consent to take my two minor daughters (2 and 5 years) to to travel to south africa to visit my parents for an extended visit of approx one year. There is a child protection services order that he may not see the children unsupervised, nor live under the same roof with his daughters until they are 18 years old. He has refused to give permission. I am australian, and own a property in Queensland. I have no assets in South AFrica and do not intend to live there permanently. I just need help and support with the children. I have no other family in Australia.

    1. Hi Dee, due to the nature of your case and the child protection department’s involvement, we recommend speaking to one of our experienced family lawyers to provide detailed advice and potential outcomes regarding your circumstances. Based on the advice you receive, you may wish to apply to the family court for orders for sole parental custody, allowing you to make decisions about their travel without requiring his consent.

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