This is a question often asked by newly seperated Mums and Dads. Parental responsibility refers to all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which parents have in relation to children. We will try to explain Parental Responsibility in this blog to start the process of understanding.
What is Parental Responsibility?
Parental responsibility refers to all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authorities which parents have in relation to children.
Parental responsibility can be ‘equal shared’ (shared by both parents) or ‘sole’ (held by one parent). Where parents have equal shared parental responsibility, they are required to make a genuine effort to consult with each other regarding major long-term issues concerning the child. These issues may include the following:
- The education of the child;
- Decisions in relation to the child’s health and medical procedures;
- Religion and cultural upbringing;
- Changing the child’s name;
- Travel for the child; or
- Living arrangements for the child.
The default position with respect to a child, is that both parents have equal shared parental responsibility unless otherwise ordered by a Court. Furthermore, when making an Order regarding parental responsibility, there is a presumption that the Court should make an Order for equal shared parental responsibility unless an exception applies.
These exceptions include circumstances where the Court is satisfied that a parent has engaged in abuse of a child or family violence, in which event there will be no presumption that equal shared parental responsibility would be in the best interests of the child.
Should the Court make such a finding, or if the parents are unable to effectively communicate and exercise equal shared parental responsibility, the Court may make an Order providing one parent with sole parental responsibility.
Importantly, an Order regarding parental responsibility does not dictate the living arrangements for the child. Therefore, both parents having equal shared parental responsibility does not automatically mean that both parents will spend equal time with the child, although it is certainly a consideration that the Court must have.
The Court will ultimately make Orders regarding the time that the child spends with each parent based on what would be in the best interests of the child and will take several factors into consideration.
Despite this, the determination of Parental Responsibility for a child remains extremely important. If you are separating and there is a child of the relationship, it is important that you obtain legal advice regarding parental responsibility at the earliest possible opportunity.
At A.L.F. Lawyers we can assist with any questions that you may have regarding Parental Responsibility and your rights.
Book a 1 hour appointment with one of our Family Lawyer’s and get all the answers you need.