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PM backs dads in custody overhaul

The Australian newspaper carries a report this morning that "A dramatic shift in family law could see divorced parents given automatic shared custody of their children. John Howard is considering the radical proposal, triggering concerns about disruption for children, who mainly live with mothers, and greater conflict between parents.

But lobbyists for divorced men who had little access to their children welcomed government plans for a review.

Mr Howard told Coalition MPs yesterday he was "interested in the broad concept" of rebuttable joint custody – where the court presumes a child should spend equal time living with each parent unless there are strong reasons against it.

His spokeswoman said later that the Prime Minister was "mindful of the need for male role-models for children, and the desire for both parents to have continuing responsibility for their upbringing".

The move would be a dramatic shift from present arrangements after divorce, where the vast majority of children live predominantly with their mother, but stay at their father's home maybe every second weekend.

Only 16 per cent of divorced couples in Australia have the children living with each parent for more than 30 per cent of the time.

The Australian

18 Jun 2003