It is true to say that in separated households mothers in Australia tend to be responsible for more overnight care of children each year than fathers do. This statement is technically correct. So too though, is the statement that in intact families, mothers in Australia tend to be responsible for more primary domestic care of children each year than fathers.
For more than 25 years, the Family Court and High Court have stated consistently that there is no legal presumption that children should be physically cared for by their mothers.
So why do children continue to spend more time with mothers than fathers? The answer is more sociological:
• During a marriage, children tend to spend more time with mothers than with fathers. These pre-separation patterns tend to continue post-separation.
• Women tend to have more part-time jobs than men. Accordingly, they tend to be more physically “available” to care for children who are sick or on school holidays; and
• Conversely, more fathers have full-time employment than do mothers.
The information contained herein is not intended to be a complete statement of the law on any subject and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice in specific fact situations.