What if my ex wants more custody just to reduce child support?

Child stuck in middle of custody negotiations as parent tries to reduce child support obligations

When a marriage breaks down, making custody arrangements that prioritise the best interests of the child should be the goal of both parents. However, when people are locked in conflict and become more interested in ‘winning’ or point scoring, things can get ugly, fast. Having to pay money to an ex-partner to assist with the financial cost of raising a child can be a real bone of contention for some people, and they’ll do whatever they can to pay less child support.

Since child support payments are calculated depending on how many nights a child spends with that parent in a fortnight, one very easy way to reduce child support payments is to increase time with the child. Sadly, it isn’t always in the child’s best interest to spend more time with that parent, especially if you suspect your ex is more motivated by what reduces child support payments as opposed to genuinely wanting to spend time with their kids.

What to do if your ex wants to reduce child support by seeking more custody

If you suspect your ex is seeking more custody just to reduce child support payments, you’ll likely be experiencing a whole host of emotions ranging from hurt, anger, frustration, and resentment. When emotions are heightened, it is easy to let anxiety or overwhelm cloud your thinking, especially if your child is resistant to the idea of spending more time with your ex.

It’s crucial to avoid lashing out at your ex or making long-term decisions based on short-term emotions. As out of control or hopeless as you may feel with your situation, it is important to remember that you have access to resources that can make a real difference to how successfully you navigate your divorce and custody negotiations.

Seek legal advice

If you’re at odds with your ex-partner regarding custody arrangements, the first thing you should do is get legal advice. This will provide clarity around your rights. Friends and family have your best interest at heart, but they don’t always give the best legal advice. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise on the best course of action to secure an outcome that is beneficial for you and your child.

Find a divorce coach

Parents going through a divorce often lose sight of the fact that it isn’t the divorce itself that has such a negative impact on children, it’s the accompanying conflict. For this reason, we highly recommend enlisting the services of a divorce coach to help you to regain a sense of balance and control and navigate this transitional period in your life with confidence. A divorce coach can be there to hold your hand through the rough times, give you legal advice, and connect you with other useful resources and professional services. In addition, a certified divorce coach can help you develop skills to manage the trickier parts of co-parenting, set healthy boundaries, and focus on what you can control. Whilst no divorce is ever fun, some can be more challenging than others. A divorce coach can help you to find peace within yourself, and with your ex, more easily.

Alternatives to court litigation for child custody disputes

Not all custody disputes end in costly court battles. In Australia, only around 3% of separating parents go through the courts to make their parenting arrangements. This means that the vast majority of couples do manage to come to an arrangement between them. However, if the current tension between you and your ex makes a peaceful resolution feel impossible, there are other avenues you can take.
Child custody negotiated avoiding litigation over child support and custody

Family mediation

The aim of mediation is to come to an agreement between yourselves and mitigate the need for court proceedings. Consider including friends or family members who can mediate between you and your ex. Alternatively, engaging a professional mediator could be the way forward.

Family dispute resolution

Family dispute resolution is a special type of mediation, overseen by a neutral and accredited practitioner, to help separating families come to an agreement on a parenting plan. It is compulsory under Australian family law to attempt FDR before applying to the Family Court for parenting orders.  

Post-separation parenting programs

A post-separation parenting course can help provide you and your ex-partner with strategies and skills to adjust to a co-operative parenting style. Such courses help parents to focus on helping their child to adjust to the separation or divorce.  

Be empowered to take the first steps

If you are facing a child custody dispute, contact Divorce Hub today. Our team of family law specialists offer counselling and support alongside legal advice. Be empowered to take the first steps in making a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your child, not your ex’s wallet.


The purpose of this article is to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice. Please get in touch to discuss your specific circumstances.