Is 2.5 kids still the norm in Australia? Child care arrangements


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Is 2.5 kids still the norm in Australia? Child care arrangements

Having just gone through the enormously frustrating Census ordeal, I wondered – What’s the average number of kids per family in Australia today?  What are the current child care arrangements? My research led to some interesting facts connected with what we deal with on a day to day basis as a Gold Coast Family Law firm. 

In a publication released in May, 2016 by Dr Jennifer Baxter, a Senior Research Fellow at the Australia Institute of Family Studies, the following statistics were revealed:

  • As at the last Australian census in 2011, of children under the age of 15 years, 71% lived with their two parents, 19% lived with a single mother, 2% lived with a single father, 5% lived with a parent and step-parent, and the remainder had some other circumstances such as living with a grandparent or with foster parents;
  • According to the (ABS) 2012-13 Family Characteristics & Transitions Survey, of the children who do not live with both parents, just over one –half (56%) spend time with the other parent on a fortnightly or more frequent basis; and a staggering 28% of children saw the other parent less than once a year or never; and
  • The ABS 2013-14 General Social Survey revealed that in the preceding 12 months, 13% reported they had been affected by mental illness and 7% reported they had been affected by alcohol or drug-related problems.

You can review the full publication at

Court Orders – determining care arrangements of children

The research did not reveal the reason/s for so many children spending very little (to no time) with the other parent, however I can infer from my years of experience of being a family lawyer, that the primary reason must have been by reason of the choice of the parent.  The Family Law Act 1975, the law which applies when determining care arrangements of children in a separated family context compels the Court to make Orders which ensures that children have a meaningful relationship with both parents. 

It is also our experience that mental health or drug & alcohol problems are not in themselves a basis for the Court refusing to Order time with a parent – typically preferring to place certain conditions on such time which takes account of such risks (e.g. restraint on drug use combined with drug testing).  Further the Court has little concern making Orders for children living or spending time with parents who have properly managed mental health issues.

There is research which supports that children who are estranged from one or both of their parents often experience difficulties later in life, including being able to form their own appropriate and healthy intimate relationships.  Therefore there is good reason to ensure that children have sound and healthy relationships with each of their parents.

If you are being denied time with your child or children, then you should consider making an Application.  If you wish to take some specific advice, then please contact our office to arrange a consultation.

And in case you were wondering… the average number of children per mother in Australia is presently between 1.7 and 1.8.