In divorce and separation proceedings, you may come across the term ‘primary carer’ quite often. This article aims to discuss what is a primary carer (also called principal carer) by exploring the definition, their responsibilities and certain rights that they have in Australia.
Under Australian family law, a primary carer is defined as the person with whom the child spends most time with. Although they are commonly one of the parents of the child, they can also be a relative like an aunt or grandparent.
Generally the topic of ‘what is a primary carer’ comes up when the court needs to make parenting orders. The next section under ‘what is a primary carer’ will elaborate on the responsibilities of the primary carer.
The principal carer has primary parental responsibility for caring for the child. These responsibilities include:
- Taking care of all daily arrangements of the child, and looking after the daily needs of the child. For instance, making dentist appointments, or doctor appointments, and also giving the child company during these appointments.
- Daily needs of the child could include feeding, and bathing needs, outings, and dressing needs.
- Acting as the primary contact of the child, including primary emergency contact, and serving as the first individual who the school, day care, or college of the child will contact in any emergency situations.
- Dropping the child to school, pre-school, or kindergarten and taking them back home.
What Is A Primary Carer : How Do Courts Make Assessments
While making parenting orders, the court will first assess what’s in the best interests of the child. As stated in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act (1975), an important consideration is given to the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
However, due to various circumstances, when equal care arrangements or equal shared responsibility between both parents is not in the best interests of the child, the court may need to determine who the principal carer is.
To understand what is a primary carer, it is also important to know how the court determines who the primary carer of the child should be. According to Section 60CC of the Family Law Act (1975) there are two considerations in determining what is in the best interests of the child, which the courts use in deciding who the principal carer should be.
- The benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with one or both of his/her parents; and
- The need to protect the child from all forms of physical farm, or psychological harm, from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
Can Primary Carer Be Changed?
Another important point of discussion under the topic of ‘what is a primary carer’ is whether or not they can be changed. As with all family law cases, if the court finds that changing the primary carer will be in the best interests of the child, the court may make an order that they be changed.
Case Study Examples
- In this case, the court found that if the child were to continue living with the mother (the primary carer at the time), the child would suffer psychological harm.
- The court also considered that if the child relocate with the father, there would be significant changes including long-term changes like change in school, and place of residence, etc.
- However, the court decided that the father would be the primary carer.
- Similarly, in this case the court found that the child could be exposed to harm if the child continued to live with the mother.
- The court ordered that there be a change of residence, along with a period of supervised time with the father for the child to build a relationship with the father, and to make the transition smoother for the child.
In summary, if the court thinks that changing the primary carer of the child is in the best interests of the child, the court will make decisions accordingly.
What Is A Primary Carer: Rights
There are certain rights that they are entitled to which enable them to provide care for the child efficiently. This is an important point to know when reading up about ‘what is a primary carer.’
Essentially, primary carers can receive provisions like parenting payments which are income support payments. These payments enable them to take care of young children, while also encouraging them to increase participation in workforce.
The types of parenting payments include rent assistance, child care subsidy, pharmaceutical allowance, energy supplement, etc.
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
This article has provided an explanation on ‘what is a primary carer’ by exploring its definition, their responsibilities, and rights that they are entitled to.
Legal advice is necessary in cases where you feel the primary carer needs to be changed. At JB Solicitors, our expert family lawyers can help you with all family law matters, and child custody cases. We have expertise in a wide range of parenting matters including child relocation, child support, and custody.
We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the legal costs from the start. We value our clients, and are dedicated to maintaining transparency throughout all our processes.
Our family lawyers can also help you understand all your rights and all kinds of payments that you can receive to ease your burden. As experienced lawyers, we understand what’s truly best for our clients and their children, and aim to provide legal advice that will truly benefit the family, and that is tailored to their specific needs.
If you have more queries about primary carers kindly get in touch with our friendly team. Contact JB Solicitors today.