Both parents of a child fundamentally have the right to exercise parental responsibility for their children. Accordingly, applying for sole parental responsibility is considered a big issue and is not granted lightly by the Courts in Australia.
Suppose two parents cannot agree on significant long–term issues in relation to their children. In that case, it is possible to apply to the Courts for a grant of sole parental responsibility. Sole parental responsibility is a term used regarding the decision-making power of such significant issues.
The practical effect of sole parental responsibility is that you can make all major-long term decisions in that particular area of your child’s life, or all areas if that is what is determined in Court without the need to consult the other parent.
What Is Sole Parental Responsibility?
Before discussing applying for sole parental responsibility, you should be aware of what sole parental responsibility practically will mean for you.
Contrary to popular belief, sole custody and sole parental responsibility is not the same thing.
Sole parental responsibility refers to the complete and unrestricted power and responsibility to make significant long-term decisions about the children.
This includes having control over decisions such as:
- What school the children attend;
- The religion of the children;
- What medical treatments they do and do not accept; and
- Their diet.
It is essential to recognise the distinction between sole parental responsibility and sole custody. For instance, one parent can have sole parental responsibility and yet still share custody. Sole parental responsibility only refers to the decision making power concerning your children.
Rebutting The Presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility
The Family Law Act 1975 presumes two things unless proven; otherwise, it presumes parents should have shared parental responsibility, and if parents have shared parental responsibility, they should have equal shared care.
If you rebut the presumption of shared parental responsibility, you do not need to rebut the presumption of equal shared care.
According to the Family Law Act, the law will assume that it is in the children’s best interests for both parents to share parental responsibility regarding the children of the relationship.
As such, an Application will need to be made to the Court with orders seeking sole parental responsibility rebutting the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility.
The following are grounds to rebut the presumption:
- The child or children have been subjected to family violence;
- When a parent is subjecting the child or children to physical or mental abuse;
- There are concerns that the parents will not be able to communicate or agree on crucial decisions concerning the children;
- When a parent is making decisions that are adverse to the children’s best interests; and
- When one of the parents has a mental health issues that prevents them from making good decisions about their hildren.
After considering the above, the next paramount consideration for the Court when making parenting orders is whether the orders are in the children’s best interests.
Sole Parental Responsibility Frequently Asked Questions
Question) Do you still receive child support if you have sole parental responsibility?
Answer) Yes. Child support still applies, even if you have sole parental responsibility.
Question) Can the other parent withhold your child from you if they have sole parental responsibility?
Answer) Although similar, sole parental responsibility and custody are different matters. Whether or not and when the other parent can withhold your child from you will depend on the terms of your parenting arrangements.
Question) What are the chances of getting sole parental responsibility in Court?
Answer) The Court is generally reluctant to grant sole parental responsibility. However, there are some circumstances where it may be granted.
The Court may also grant sole parental responsibility regarding particular decisions where the parents have conflicting views. For example, these can include where the child attends school or medical decisions.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
When discussing matters such as applying for sole parental responsibility, it is essential to note that every application for sole parental responsibility will be determined on a different basis that is unique to your particular circumstances.
If you would like any advice regarding the prospects of your matter, you should contact our firm. We are happy to provide you with the help and guidance you require.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way.
With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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