The Court can make orders about children setting out each person’s responsibility for them. Parenting orders can provide for:

• How parental responsibility is shared;
• Who the child lives with;
• What time the child spends with each parent and others;
• Maintenance of the child;
• Any other matter the Court thinks relevant.

Parenting responsibility gives the parents the right to make decisions about their child’s life. Long term decisions about parental responsibility involve such matters as education, health and religion.

In making parenting orders, the Court starts with the presumption that it is in a child’s best interests for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility. If there has been family violence or abuse, this presumption may not apply.

If equal shared parental responsibility is in the child’s best interests, the Court must consider whether it is reasonably practical for the child, and in the child’s best interests to spend equal time with each parent. If an equal time arrangement is not practical or in the child’s best interests, an arrangement to spend “substantial and significant time” with each parent should be considered having regard to the circumstances of each case.

The best interests of the child are the paramount consideration for the Court in making a parenting order. The Court must have regard to primary considerations and additional considerations.

Primary considerations are:

• The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents;

• The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm and being subjected to, or exposed to family violence or neglect.

Examples of additional considerations include:

• Any views expressed by a child and the child’s maturity;

• The child’s relationship with each parent and other persons;

• The willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent;

• The practical difficulty and expense of the children seeing each parent;

• The capacity of each parent to provide for the child’s needs;

• The attitude of each parent towards the children and responsibility of being a parent;

• The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of the child and each parent;

• Any family violence.

The information on this website is of a general nature only and may not reflect recent changes to certain areas of law. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for discussing your situation with a qualified legal practitioner.