Parental responsibility is the authority to make decisions concerning and affecting the care, welfare and proper development of a child. Both parents have full parental responsibility for their children up until the age of 18.
Parental responsibility is not affected by a change in the family structure. This means that parents’ are responsible to make short-term and long-term arrangements that are in the best interest of their child, no matter if they are together, separating, divorced or remarried.
Some of the responsibilities and major long-term decisions parents have in relation to bring up their children in relation the family law in Australia are:
Note, parents are not obligated to consult each other on the day-to-day decisions about their child.
The Court has the power to allocated Parental Responsibility to people other than the child’s biological parents. For example:
In Australia, it is presumed that each parent has ‘equal shared parental responsibility’. Parents no matter if they are married or separated are jointly responsible to make the long-term decisions for their child. Even if a child lives with just one parent, the other still holds the same parental responsibilities as the other parent to ensure that their child is correctly cared for.
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In some circumstances the Courts may make an order for sole parental responsibility. This means that the parent who is awarded sole parental responsibility is the sole decision-maker for the child.
The Courts will always make decisions on ‘what is the child’s best interest?’ as set out in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975. Hence, parents must have an adequate reason for seeking a Sole Parenting Order.
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