Sole parent definition in family law is as follows:
The primary carer of the child (either the mother, or the father) who takes care of the child without the presence of the other parent is known as the sole parent of the child.
Sole parent definition in family law means that the parent has sole parental responsibility over the child. When discussing sole parent definition, it is important to note that the child resides with the sole parent permanently.
In this article, we will discuss sole parent definition. We will also explore other key aspects related to sole parent definition such as sole parental responsibility and sole custody.
Sole Parent Definition: Parental Responsibility
Parental responsibility in relation to child means all the duties, responsibilities, obligations and powers which by law parents have in relation to their children.
Under the Family Law Act (1975), there is a presumption that both parents of a child will have equal shared parental responsibility. Equal shared parental responsibility means that both parents will have equal authority to make all short-term and long-term decisions in the child’s life.
These can include matters such as:
1. Short-term decisions – Child’s eating habits, and what he/she wears etc.
2. Long-term decisions – Child’s education, healthcare, residency, cultural upbringing etc.
According to Section 61DA of the Family Law Act (1975), it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to have equal shared parental responsibility.
Notably, parental responsibility is not necessarily linked with whom the child spends more time with. A parent can have parental responsibility even if the child does not reside with that particular parent.
While the presumption of equal shared responsibility is crucial for family courts, there are instances where one parent will have sole parental responsibility.
Under sole parent definition, sole parental responsibility means that the parent will not need the consent of the other parent to make any long-term decisions in the child’s life.
For example, if a parent with sole parental responsibility wishes to change the last name of the child, he/she can do so without needing the consent of the other parent. Moreover, the sole parent is not obligation to discuss any matters regarding the child with the other parent.
Family courts give sole parental responsibly only in extreme cases. For instance, if the other parent has exposed the child to some form of abuse, or neglect, courts might give sole parental responsibility to the non-abusive parent.
What Is Sole Custody?
If a parent has witnessed the other parent being abusive towards their child, he/she can apply for sole custody. Sole custody is an important topic to discuss under sole parent definition.
In Australian legislation, term sole “parental responsibility” is used commonly as compared to “sole custody.” It is important to note that just because a parent has sole parental responsibility, it does not mean that the other parent cannot visit the child.
It is considered to be in the child’s best interests (Section 60CC), for the child to cultivate a meaningful relationship with both his/her parents.
However, another primary consideration under the Section 60CC best interests principle is the need to protect the child against all forms of harm such as abuse, neglect and family violence.
This is why if maintaining contact or having a relationship with one parent puts the child’s safety at risk, the family court will give sole custody to the other parent.
This is also why the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility does not apply in some cases. These include if:
- a parent has abused the child (physically, emotionally, sexually, or psychologically), or abused another child who was living with them; or
- there were instances of family violence.
Sole Parent Definition: Family Law Case Study
In this case, the father sought sole parental responsibility for the child. The mother had made allegations against the father, stating that he had sexually abused the child. During the final hearing of the case, the mother withdrew these allegations of sexual abuse against the father.
The Court found that the father had not abused the child in any way. Moreover, the Court found that the mother poses a risk of causing emotional or psychological harm to the child.
The Court ordered that the child will live with the father. Additionally, the Court ordered that the mother can visit the child. The Court allowed the mother to have supervised contact with the child, which were to be held in child contact centres.
In this case, the Court made orders stating that the mother has sole parental responsibility. The Courts give due consideration to the opinions and wishes of the children in family law matters.
The children did not wish to spend time with their father due to various reasons. The Judge ordered that the father seek counselling so as to be able to re-establish a healthier relationship with the children.
Legal Guidance For Family Law Matters
Child custody matters are the most stressful matters during a divorce or separation. This is because such cases usually involve court battles and lengthy proceedings. All this adds to the overall stress of a divorce or separation.
For these reasons, it is very important to have trustworthy legal experts by your side. You can rely on your lawyer to assist you throughout all complexities that arise in a family law matter.
At JB Solicitors, our family lawyers understand the stress that parties go through. We have a wealth of experience in tackling all matters that fall under family law. This includes property settlement, child custody issues and financial agreements, among others.
Our family lawyers deal with a variety of matters on a day-to-day basis. JB Solicitors is a community-oriented team that treats each matter with genuine compassion. Our team is dedicated to getting the best possible outcome for your matter.
We value transparency, and place our clients above everything else. For detailed information on any matter, contact our friendly team of lawyers.