What is Equal Shared Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to children. Regardless of separation or re-marrying, each parent of a child under 18 years old has parental responsibility for the child.

The concept of parental responsibility was introduced into the Family Law Act to draw attention away from parental rights over children, and onto parents’ responsibilities to provide appropriate care for children.

The Court presumes it is in the best interests of a child for their parents to have equal shared parental responsibility, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe a parent (or a person who lives with a parent) has engaged in abuse of the child or family violence. In those  and other limited circumstances, the Court can make an order giving sole parental responsibility to one parent, or to another significant person, such as a grandparent.

If you share parental responsibility with another person and you have to make a decision about a major long-term issue, the decision must be made jointly by you and the other person. You must consult with one another and make a genuine effort to come to a joint decision. However, you do not need to consult on issues surrounding your child’s day to day care such as their diet, choice of clothing or chosen activities.

Major long-term issues are issues of a long-term nature about the care, welfare and development of a child  and include (but are not limited to) issues about a child’s:

  • Current and future education;
  • religious and cultural upbringing;
  • health;
  • name; and
  • changes to living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent.

If you are concerned another person is making decisions about long-term issues concerning your child without consulting you, please contact us to discuss your options.


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