What is Shared Parental Responsibility?

The term Parental Responsibility was first introduced in the Family Law Act during the 2006 amendments, essentially it is the rights and responsibility to make long term decisions for children, including decisions about education, religion, health, names, and living arrangements for children.  

Prior to these amendments being enacted, the term child custody was a catch all principal which included physical custody for children, and the power to make long term decisions about their care.

Parents are deemed to have parental responsibility for their children. Pursuant to S61C of the Family Law Act 1975. This legal position prevails until or if an Order of the Court is made displacing it. It should be noted that until or if an Order of the Court is made, neither parent has superior Parental Responsibility and there is no positive obligation to negotiate and agree on long term decisions.

The two most common Parental Responsibility Orders that re made are:

  1. Equal shared parental responsibility
  2. Sole Parental Responsibility.

The first requires parents to negotiate on long term issues impacting their children, the second allows one parent to make all long term decisions without regard to the other parents views and wishes.

In some instances the Court will make an Order that parents communicate with one another about long term issues, and in the event that there is no agreement reached that one parent have the right to make the ultimate decision.

It is important to note that Parental Responsibility does not impact on child support, or a parent’s financial obligation to support children in any way.

It’s important to note that equal shared parental responsibility does not necessarily mean equal parenting time. So, one parent might see the child for 10 days in a fortnight, and the other 4 days, but still be considered to have equal parental responsibility.

The court starts with the assumption that it is of benefit for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Any evidence of domestic violence, neglect, abuse or other harm is taken very seriously, and considered as part of determining custody arrangements.

The court also considers the following factors:- 

  • views expressed by the child
  • the nature of the relationship of the child to the parent or other persons (siblings, grandparents etc)
  • the attitude and commitment each parent shows in facilitating and encouraging a continuing relationship with the other parent
  • the capacity of each of the child’s parents to provide for the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the child
  • Any other matter that the court thinks is relevant

An Order for Sole Parental Responsibility will not be sufficient for a parent to legally change a child’s name, nor obtain a Passport. We can assist with Applications for each.

Parenting cases are dynamic and diverse and require personalised advice and attention. Headed by our Senior Lawyer Kasey Stewart, an Accredited Specialist in Family Law, you can trust our family law team to help you achieve the best results possible, for you and your children. You can reach us at (02) 4929 4499 or book an appointment online.

Kasey Stewart
Kasey Stewart

9 Jun, 2023

The information in this article is intended to provide general information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice specific to your particular circumstances, you must formally engage a lawyer or law firm. The law is subject to change, and whilst we strive to keep our content up-to-date, developments may occur after publication. The information contained on our website should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law. Mason Lawyers takes no responsibility for any use of the information provided. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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