This article delves into the definition of parental responsibility, sole parental responsibility, equal shared parental responsibility and what you need to do if you want sole parental responsibility in relation to your child.
What is parental responsibility
Parental responsibility in relation to a child, means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to their children.
What is sole parental responsibility?
Sole parental responsibility means that a parent is solely responsible for making all ‘big ticket’ AKA major long term decisions in relation to their child.
In some circumstances a court may order sole parental responsibility for particular things, such as medical treatment or education, therefore taking these decisions away from the other parent.
How do I get sole parental responsibility?
Parents have equal shared parental responsibility unless there is an order from the court granting you with sole parental responsibility.
A court will order that one parent have parental responsibility in relation to a child, solely, to the exclusion of the other, rarely and only in exceptional circumstances.
An exceptional circumstance might be where one parent has an addiction to drugs, mental illness, where there has been extreme domestic violence or in circumstances where a child has been subject to abuse by a parent. A court may also order that one parent have sole parental responsibility in relation to a child if it is otherwise considered that it is in a child’s best interests. This may be the case in circumstances where, for example, the parties are unable to communicate and cooperate to make decisions in relation to their children.
You will need to file an Application in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia seeking orders for you to have parental responsibility for all major long term decisions concerning your child, and you should explain why it is in the child’s bests interests.
Presumption of equal shared parental responsibility when making parenting orders
When making a parenting order in relation to a child, the court must apply a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for the child’s parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.
The presumption does not apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent of the child has engaged in:
- abuse of the child or another child who, at the time, was a member of the parent’s family; or
- family violence.
When the court is making an interim parenting order, the presumption applies unless the court considers that it would not be appropriate in the circumstances for the presumption to be applied when making that order.
The presumption may also be rebutted by evidence that satisfies the court that it would not be in the best interests of the child for the child’s parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.
Parenting Orders and parental responsibility
A parenting order confers parental responsibility for a child on a person, but only to the extent to which the order confers on the person duties, powers, responsibility or authority in relation to the child.
A parenting order in relation to a child does not take away or diminish any aspect of the parental responsibility for any person for the child except to the extent (if any):
- expressly provided for in the order; or
- necessary to give effect to the order.
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