Parenting Matters

Equal shared parental responsibility

Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) there is a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility. In practice, this means that the court shall presume that each and both parents shall be equally responsible for making decisions in relation to “major long-term issues” regarding their child. These issues include, by way of example, the child’s education (e.g. which schools they shall attend) and the child’s religious and cultural upbringing (e.g. which religion the child shall observe and/or practice).

However, equal shared parental responsibility may not apply in some cases. For example, where the court believes that it is not in the best interests of the child for the presumption to apply, or, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent of the child (or a person who lives with a parent of the child) has engaged in abuse or family violence, the court may refuse to make an order for equal shared parental responsibility.

Who the child will live and spend time with

The court will consider whether it is in the best interests of the child to spend equal time with each parent.

In the event the court considers that such time is not in the child’s best interests, the court will then consider whether substantial and significant time with the parent with whom the child does not live is in the child’s best interests.

The child’s best interests

In parenting matters, when deciding what is in the child’s best interests the court will consider factors including:

  • Whether each parent is willing to encourage and facilitate a close and ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm and from being exposed or subjected to family violence, abuse or neglect.
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with each of parent and the child’s relatives (including grandparents).
  • The capacity of each of the child’s parents and relatives (including grandparents) to provide for the needs of the child including emotional and intellectual needs.

Domestic Violence and Family Violence

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