When the parents of a child who is under the age of 18 go through a separation, they have the responsibility for the child. The Family Law Act 1975 determines the rights of children and responsibilities that each of the parents has to ensure the child’s best interests are in order. Equal shared parental responsibility does not consist of equal time spent with the children. Instead, equal shared parental responsibility requires the parents to consult each other and make an effort to make the best decisions in a joint fashion. Decisions may include:
- Education/choice of school
- Religious affiliations
- Healthcare decisions
- The Child’s name
The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility has the Court create a parenting order. The order will layout the time the child spends with each of their parents. As stated before, the time does not have to be equal and if the child will only be spending substantial time with one of their parents. This could entail that the child will spend most of their time living with one parent and then only spending some time with the other parent. The Court’s main decision will be in the best interest of the child and not the parents. Considerations the court may make include:
- Meaningful relationships with both parents
- Protecting children from physical and psychological harm
- Child’s maturity level
- The willingness of each of the parents involved
- Any family violence
- Substance abuse
- And mental health issues
Before applying to the Court, parents must participate in mediation and take steps to try and resolve the matter. When the Court does order a presumption, it does not apply for all circumstances. When spending time with each parental figure, decisions such as bedtime, what the child eats, and television shows the watch does not have to be joint decisions. It is to the discretion of the parent that has custody of the child during that time. Whether you are in the mediation process or trying to gather information to help with the Court’s decision, it is best to find a legal professional who can help advise you.
**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.