New Family Law Statistics from the Australian Institute of Family Studies

Written by Matthew Sibley | Dec 5, 2019 6:37:36 AM

Recently, the Australian Institute of Family Studies (‘AIFS’) released an Evidence Summary of a study it had conducted in relation to post-separation parenting outcomes. The Evidence Summary provides very interesting statistics regarding family law parenting outcomes that cast some light on the process. While statistics do not always tell the whole truth, they can indicate trends in the family law parenting process that may be helpful when determining the best course of action in your case.

Some key findings of the AIFS study are as follows:

  1. 97% of parents do not go to court, but rather make arrangements between themselves (whether in private discussions or with the assistance of lawyers and/or mediation).
  2. Approximately 83% of cases are resolved with the Mother having at least 53% of the care for children, while the Father has at least 53% of the care of children in only 7% of cases. This indicates that there is a leaning in our society and judicial system towards mothers being the primary carer for their children. This demonstrates how historic societal assumptions regarding the roles of each parent may still influence the legal system.
  3. The family court system is deeply opposed to making no-contact or supervised parenting orders on a final basis. While these mechanisms may be appropriate on an interim basis during proceedings, in only 3% of cases does the court make final orders for a child not to see a parent and in only 4% of cases does the court order supervised contact on a final basis.
  4. While only 3% of parenting cases end up in court, most of these involve allegations of family violence (54% physical violence; 85% emotional abuse). Other common issues in litigated matters include mental health issues (59%) and substance misuse (42%).
  5. While only 3% of cases end up in court, those that do often produce much more extreme outcomes. 55% of cases decided by a judge involve orders for sole parental responsibility (where one parent can unilaterally make major long-term decisions for the child without consulting the other parent). Meanwhile, approximately 93% of cases that are settled by consent between the parents involve orders for shared parental responsibility (where parents make major long-term decisions together).
  6. Statistically, it is more likely for Fathers to obtain majority care for children through adjudicated matters decided by a judge (19%) than purely by consent (4%). This vast discrepancy does not apply to orders where the Mother has primary care (64% for each).
  7. Shared care regimes are much more common in consented matters that do not go to court (33%) than matters decided by a judge (17%) or those that commence the litigation process but settle by consent (15%).

The above statistics provide a guide as to the trends in the family law system. While each case turns on its particular circumstances, it is worth considering the general trends at court when determining the best way to conduct your parenting matter and obtain your desired outcomes.

The AIFS Evidence Summary can be found here.

At Frank Law, we have an experienced family law team that conducts a variety of family law parenting matters. We offer a free first conference where we can listen to your story, provide tailored advice and adopt a strategy to obtain your desired outcomes in accordance with your child’s best interests.

If you have further questions, please contact Matthew Sibley at

This is not legal advice. 

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash.