Equal shared parental responsibility encourages cooperative parenting through requiring parents to make a genuine effort to consult with each other regarding significant long-term decisions concerning the child. They are presumed to have an equal say in these major decisions. Equal shared parental responsibility does not apply to short-term decisions. Examples of major long-term issues include the child’s education, health, religious and cultural upbringing, name and living arrangements.
Consider this scenario. As a separated parent, you may decide you would like to change your child’s school. You must make a genuine effort to consult with your ex-partner before making any decisions, as the effect would have a major long-term impact on the child’s development.
To clarify, equal shared parental responsibility does NOT necessarily mean the parents have equal time with both their parents. It also does NOT presume that the parents have shared care of their children.
The Court can decide, under the presumption, whether it is reasonably practicable or in the best interests of the child to spend equal time with both parents. Alternatively, if this is not appropriate, the Court can consider an arrangement that allows both parents substantial and significant time with the child.
Equal shared parental responsibility is a rebuttable presumption, meaning the Court will apply it in a parenting order unless you can successfully argue it should not be presumed. You must show the Court evidence that it would not be in the best interests of the child if equal shared parental responsibility is presumed.
This can include proving there are reasonable grounds to believe that one parent, or a person who lives with that parent, has engaged in family violence or subjected the child to abuse. Child abuse can also be extended to another child whom was a member of that parent’s, or the person who lives with the parent’s, family.
The court may then consider making an order for Sole Parental Responsibility.