Mother vs Father Custody Statistics Australia – What you need to know

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It’s common for children to feel unsettled when their parents are going through a divorce. As per the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the proportion of children-involved divorces has decreased since the 1970s. It hit 47% in 2014 from 68% in 1975. However, it has risen to 49% in 2020, which is alarming.

With the decreasing divorce rate every year, mother vs father custody cases in court have also decreased over the past years. Several custody battle statistics in Australia show that children with divorced parents usually stay with their mother after separation. However, it’s often because of a mutually agreed-upon parenting plan. Under The Family Law Act of 1975, the family courts of Australia must seek the child’s best interests and act accordingly.

This article will go through the Australian child custody statistics in detail.

Divorce Custody Statistics Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) states that one in four children in Australia faces permanent separation/divorce before the age of 18. In the year 2008, around 43,000 Aussie children faced the divorce of their parents. In 2006-2007, around one in four people aged 18-34 experienced temporary or permanent parental separation. Here’s a graph showing the proportion of divorces involving children aged under 18 years.

Mother vs Father Custody Statistics Australia 2022-2023
Proportion of Divorces Involving Children

It is a common misconception that courts favour mothers in most custody battles. This misconception is fueled by the father custody statistics as the percentage of mothers winning custody battles is more than women. So, in reality, how often do fathers get custody? The statistics of fathers getting custody show that only 3% lose the right to see their children. Here’s a graph showing average parenting statistics in Australia.

Mother vs Father Custody Statistics Australia 2022-2023
Average Parenting Statistics in Australia

Around 68% of children live in single-parent households. A survey says that 21 per cent of the time, sons live with their biological father. The reason is the decreasing percentage of fathers winning custody battles in the court. On average, only 11% of fathers are given sole custody of their children. Most of the other times, it ends with a parenting agreement or sole custody by the children’s mother.

Mothers Getting Custody in Australia

The most common question while discussing custody battles is, do mothers get custody more than fathers? According to the AIFS report, around 45% of cases end with mothers winning custodial battles. Nearly 20% of the children stay with their mother every night and their father during the day.

So, Do courts favour mothers? The answer is; No, the court’s decision is strictly based on the child’s best interests. Generally speaking, children are more comfortable with their mothers. That’s why it may seem like the Family courts in Australia are biased toward mothers.

Another survey in 2014 shows that around 46% of the time, mothers are awarded primary custody. The percentage of sole custody by mothers was 27% in the same year. Counting the results, the mothers won 73% of the child custody cases.


Father vs Mother custody battle is a common dispute at the time of the divorce and can devastate a child’s life. The divorce rate has been decreasing over the past year. Official Australian sources were scraped and researched while writing this article.

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