What does Equal Shared Parental Responsibility mean?
Equal shared parental responsibility means both parents share major long-term decisions on issues such as:
- medical matters
- religious matters
- cultural matters
- living arrangements
Day-to-day decisions, for example what the children wear or what they eat, are not included.
There is a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility when making parenting orders under Section 61DA of the Family Law Act.
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 relates solely to the allocation of parental responsibility for a child. It does not provide for a presumption about the amount of time the child spends with each of the parents.
The Family Law Act states that the presumption does not apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent of the child (or a person who lives with 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 that other person’s family); or
- family violence.
The presumption may 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.
Part 2 of this series will discuss equal time spending with children.