Without any court orders and usually with court orders (unless
it is determined by the court that it is not in the best interests
of the children), both parents have joint parental responsibility.
This means that it is both parents' responsibility, not that of
a new partner of either one of them, to make decisions about the
long-term issues that will affect the children.
Long-term decisions and day-to-day matters
Long term decisions involve such things as which schools the
children will attend, what religion the children will be brought up
in, any medical decisions, the living arrangements of the children
and the names of the children. However, the day to day decisions
about the children, such as their routines and who the children
will see and spend time with, are usually determined by each parent
at the time that the children are in their care. It is not
necessary to discuss such day-to-day matters with the other
Limits of your influence
Generally, you will not be able to decide whether the child will
see or spend time with your former partner's new partner unless
there are safety concerns. Ultimately, it is the children that
matter and if your former partner's new partner is making an
effort with them and being kind to them, that is the most important
It is recommended that you accept your former partner's new
partner and work through your emotions with close friends or a
counsellor. If at all possible, try to reach an agreement with your
former partner about what is reasonable and unreasonable.
Genuine safety concerns for your children
If you have genuine concerns about the safety of your children
or the adverse impact of your former partner's new partner on
them, you should seek immediate legal advice. If you do have such
concerns, it is possible to seek court orders restraining your
partner from letting the children spend time with that person. A
court will only grant such a restraint in circumstances where there
are real concerns about the welfare of the children.
Swaab Attorneys was the highest ranking law firm and the
13th best place to work in Australia in the 2010 Business Review
Weekly Best Places to Work Awards. The firm was a finalist in the
2010 BRW Client Choice Awards for client service and was named the
winner in the 2009 Australasian Legal Business Employer of Choice
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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