28 October 2020

Equal shared parental responsibility vs equal time: What is the difference?



Parental responsibility is not the same as spending equal time with the child.
Australia Family and Matrimonial
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Following your separation from your child's other parent; you will both retain parental responsibility for decisions relating to your child (provided they are under 18 years old).

These decisions may be related to your child's health, education, religion etc on a long-term basis.

The Family Law Act 1975 ('The Act') provides that both parents will have equal shared parental responsibility, unless the court considers that it is in the best interests for the responsibility to be removed from one parent.

But, parental responsibility is not the same as spending equal time with the child.

The Act does not provide any presumption that the child must spend equal time with both parents. While it is deemed important for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, the Act does not specify a presumption for equal time.

Often, parents will come to an arrangement about the time the child will spend with each parent.

However, this can be tricky where the parents struggle to communicate with each other or have different opinions has to how the child's time shall be spent between each parent, or how the changeover between households is to occur.

When the lines get blurry and you are unable to come to an arrangement, or you believe your child would benefit from spending additional time with you, we recommend you seek legal advice.

Our lawyers are able to consider your circumstances and assist you to:

  • Determine possible parenting arrangements and formulate a proposal for your child's other parent;
  • Communicate with your child's other parent (or their lawyer) to attempt to reach an agreement on a new parenting arrangement;
  • Arrange a Mediation for the dispute; or
  • Prepare your matter to be heard by a Court for the arrangements that would be in the best interests of the child.

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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