Can You Divorce Your Child in Australia?


In Australia, you can divorce your child by applying for ‘Child Emancipation’ in the Youth Court, where either a child or a parent can seek this legal separation.

Once ‘divorced’ from the parents, the child will no longer be under the control or authority of the parents and the parents will no longer have any responsibilities to uphold.


Child Emancipation in Australia


In Australia, Child Emancipation refers to a legal process that allows a minor (someone under the age of 18) to gain certain rights and responsibilities typically reserved for adults.

In simple terms, it means that a child is considered legally independent and is no longer under the full authority and control of their parents or guardians.

This may include the ability to make decisions without parental consent, such as:

  • Where to live
  • Education, and
  • Medical.

Child Emancipation is not common in Australia and is usually only granted in specific situations, such as when a minor can demonstrate that they are mature and capable of making important decisions for themselves.


Divorcing Your Child in Australia


If the child is under 18 years old, the State generally becomes the guardian.

The Court will only grant an order of this nature if it deems that doing so would be in the best interests of the child.

Ordinarily, the Court will make these orders particularly if there is evidence of:

  1. Physical injury
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Child abandonment
  4. Death or incapacity of parents, or
  5. Emotional harm, psychological harm, or neglect.

The Court may still make orders of this nature even if there is no harm but rather because of irreconcilable differences between the child and parents.

The Court requires that the child and parents attend mediation before making orders about irreconcilable differences.


Legal Outcomes in Child Emancipation Cases


If the Court considers that there is a chance that the issues between the parents and child can be resolved, it may make orders that:

  • The child continues living with the parents but the State will share responsibility over the child and assist the family in resolving issues
  • The child is removed from the parents temporarily and placed into the care of the State (in some cases up to 12 months) with the aim of reuniting the family, or
  • The child continues living with the parents and an undertaking (formal pledge) is given.

If the Court considers that there is little or no chance of resolution, it may make orders that a carer be appointed for the child who will have parental responsibility for the child for up to two years, such as an extended family member.

A long-term carer can be appointed who will have parental responsibility until the child turns 18, or a permanent carer may be appointed and they will have sole parental responsibility.


Contact Us


For more information about Child Emancipation and divorcing your child in Australia, contact us at Bambrick Legal today.

We offer a free, no-obligation 15-min consultation for all enquiries.

Read more about our Family Law services here.

Related Blog – What is a Binding Child Support Agreement?

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