The Family Law Act 1975 was amended a few years ago to emphasise 50/50 parenting. It is called equal shared care. For a Judge, it means that they must give it some thought if there is no real evidence of family violence or abuse to a child.
When parents decide to parent 50/50 after separation, the way that time is arranged for the child’s nights and changeover’s must focus on your child’s best interests. This is something to keep in mind if you are writing up a parenting plan and getting Certus Lawyers to help you draft your consent order.
Most of the time, the fact that a parent works full-time or shift-work and must use after school hours care does not matter. The Judge understands that one or both parents have to work – especially after separation where one household becomes two to support financially. There are much more critical issues than a working parent that the Judge must look at if parents are fighting over with whom a child or children live.
It is also important to know that just because the legislation supports 50/50 or equal parenting, it is not an automatic right for any parent going to Court for a decision. When the Judge hands down their decision, no matter what each party or even the child wants, above everything else, the Judge must decide what is in a child’s best interests by looking at each and every relevant 60CC factors.
This is a critical notion in parenting under the Family Law Act. If you must go to Court about your child or children, be prepared to answer direct questions from the Judge about your personal understanding of what this legal term means. Also, once you are in the Court process for parenting, you will likely meet with a range of psychologists, family reporters or psychiatrists who will be interested to hear your perceptions about parenting.
In short, it can mean many things. However, joint parental responsibility in Court Orders predominantly means that each parent has a role and a responsibility for making major and longer term decisions about a child or children. For the Judge, it can also mean whether you are able to communicate with the other parent or how you communicate with the other parent.
Decisions about a child’s schooling, religious or spiritual activities, medical treatment and geographical residence are all major decisions.
Extra-curricular activities, social events, and daily routine while your child is in your care are not usually considered major decisions and not something you need to negotiate with the other parent. That doesn’t mean you can send messages through your child or forget common courtesy altogether. The Court expects that parents going through Court over their child’s or childrens’ time with them demonstrate a level of common sense. The Court also frowns upon a parent involving children in adult issues or denigrating the other parent in front of your children.
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