Every parent is bound to take all the responsibilities of their children until they become adults and mature enough to fend for themselves. There is a strict law about parental responsibility in Australia, and every parent must comply with it. But when two parents need to get separated due to unavoidable reasons, problems occur regarding the custody of the children. Here we discuss important things to know about equal shared parental responsibility.
As a parent, you will be automatically responsible for ensuring your children’s safety, wellbeing, education, and overall development. It is collectively called parental responsibility. In the Family Law Act of 1975, parental responsibility is described as “All the duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which, by law, parents have concerning children.”
A key point of parental responsibility is making important decisions about their lives and futures. A vital decision contributes to what is called ‘major long-term issues.’ These long-term issues include:
- The current and future learning of the child.
- Child’s overall health, specifically medical responsibilities.
- The cultural and religious upbringing of the child.
- Naming the child.
- Preparing valid travel documents for the kids.
- Altering the child’s living arrangements in a way that can make it challenging for them to spend their time with parents.
That is why, in case of a divorce or separation, the court deals with the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, except it does not serve the child’s best interests.
Equal shared parental responsibility refers to the following.
- Parents have to make significant long-term decisions, as mentioned above, unanimously.
- Parents need to sit together and discuss matters to decide on their child’s wellbeing and future.
- You should note that equal shared parental responsibility and full custody of a child are not the same.
Let us give one example. A child may stay with one parent and meet the other parent only on the weekends. Even though these parents cannot see their child frequently, they will have to take equal responsibility for a child. The main difference from getting the full custody of a child is that here the two parents will have equally shared custody. The amount of time a parent gives their child will not affect the duties categorized under parental responsibility.
However, you have to consult with any Divorce lawyers Perth as the court sets the parental responsibility.
If any dispute occurs between the two parents, the court can change the status of parental responsibility. From ‘equal and shared,’ it can become ‘sole,’ where one parent can get more power to make long-term decisions. It will depend on the best interests of the child.
In a few cases, the two parents may get equal and shared parental responsibility in all the areas except only one single area for which one parent will have more power to make decisions. This single area may be the education for the child. The only responsible parent will not even need to consult with the former spouse or partner on selecting the high school for their child.
But, in the other areas, you will need to consult with your former partner. For example, you might get custody of your child, but if you think of changing their surname to your own, you will have to discuss it with your partner, and it can be done when both of you reach an agreement.
And if you get full custody of the child and have complete control of making decisions for their life, no such agreement will be necessary.
The presumption is mentioned in the s61 DA of the Australian Family Law Act of 1975. When the court is making a parenting order for a child, the court has to apply a presumption that will serve the child’s best interests so that the child’s parents can have equal shared parental responsibility.
However, the presumption will not apply if there occurs any one of the following.
- A parent of the child or another person who stays with a parent of the child has records of abusing the child or any other child who was once a member of the parent’s family or that other person’s family.
- There are records of family violence.
If any such cases happen and you feel worried about your child, you should consult with a child custody lawyers Perth. They will guide you properly.
Separation or divorce is a complicated and lengthy procedure, and it involves numerous stages in and out of court. And if you have a child, the process gets even more complex regarding the child’s custody. So, we always recommend consulting a reputed separation lawyer for professional guidance.