Family Law: What You Need to Know About Parental Responsibility

Law Blog

Australia's family law is designed to ensure that the best interests and well-being of children whose parents are undergoing divorce or separation are observed. Parental responsibilities and court-given parental orders are some of the ways the law makes sure that children are well taken care of after a relationship has ended.

What is parental responsibility?

Australia's Family Law Act stipulates that each parent has a responsibility to their child/children until they are 18 years old. This is what is regarded as parental responsibility, and this remains unchanged even when circumstances in a relationship change. For instance, if you divorce and one party remarries, he/she must continue to perform his/her parental responsibilities and duties.  

After the end of a relationship, you and your partner will need to make future arrangements concerning the well-being of your children. You may either agree or disagree about this; either way the law gives guidelines on what is to be done in each scenario. For instance:

If you're in agreement

If both you and your former partner are in agreement about parental responsibilities, then you do not have to go to court. You will however, have to make a parenting plan (a written agreement that stipulates parenting arrangements for a child). This is not a legally enforceable agreement. All parties must be involved in the making of a parenting plan and must be in agreement.

Even if all parties involved in a divorce or separation are in proper agreement in regard to the welfare of their children, a consent order is often necessary. A consent order is a written agreement that has been approved by the court, and, therefore, can be legally enforced. Any party that is concerned about the welfare of a child can apply for a consent order, but the court must be fully satisfied that the orders being sought are in the best interest of the child.

If not in agreement

If parents in a divorce or separation cannot agree on parental responsibilities and arrangements, they can move to court to get parenting orders. However, Australian law stipulates that before you apply to the court, you must participate in pre-action procedures, such as taking part in a Family Dispute Resolution Conference.

Whether you're in the process of ending a de facto relationship or undergoing divorce or separation, there is one constant fact—this can be a difficult and emotional process. This process becomes harder if children are involved, and that is why family law seeks to protect the rights and well-being of children in these situations. Contact lawyers in your area for additional information.


22 February 2018

Dealing With Divorce

Hello, my name is Sandra. I live with my two children in Eastern Australia. I have recently come through a very difficult divorce. My ex-partner used to drink too much and he wasn't a very good husband or father. The final straw was when I discovered he was having an affair. I filed for divorce the same day. I knew that getting divorced would be difficult but I didn't realise just how difficult. My husband did all he could to make it hard for me and the kids. Thankfully, I found a fantastic family lawyer who helped me through the entire process. I won custody of the kids and my husband has been asked to pay child support. I decided to start this blog to help others who are going through a divorce.