When parents of a child separate, they both have parental responsibility for the child, subject to any court order. Both parents also have a duty to support the child financially.

Parental responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the Family Law Act 1975, as any other parent-child and post-separation legal matters.

Focus: Best Interests of the Child

The Family Law Act 1975 has the rights of children in its focus, as well as the responsibilities that each parent has towards their children, rather than on parental rights. In relation to best interests of the child, the FLA has two focal points. It aims to ensure that children can enjoy a meaningful relationship with each of their parents, and are protected from harm. The second point carries greater weight, so if there is an issue with the child being subjected to harm or abuse or neglect by a parent, it is more important to protect them from that parent, than to enable them to maintain a meaningful relationship with that parent.

Equal Shared Parental Responsibility

Both parents having an equal parental responsibility is a presumption under the Family Law Act 1975. This means that they will both have a role in making decisions about major long-term issues. These can be in relation to the child’s education, health, religion, etc.

But if the parent engaged in abuse of the child or family violence, the presumption does not apply. It also does not apply if it is not in the best interests of the child.

Shared parental responsibility is not the same as equal time. Parents will spend equal time with a child only where:

  • they can agree to this arrangement, or
  • a court finds that equal time is in the best interests of the child and is the most suitable arrangement.

If you have any concerns or questions about parental responsibility and how law can affect your own circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact Withstand Lawyers. We are a team of experienced family lawyers with a range of areas of expertise, one of them being shared parental responsibility and other post-separation parenting matters.

Call us today at 1800 644 541, email us at info@withstandlawyers.com.au or send an online inquiry, and we will arrange an appointment to go through your specific situation.

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