Mother filed a petition seeking sole parental responsibility for all matters involving religious instruction of the children.
The parties began living together in late 1994 and married in November 1995. After five years of marriage, L was born and almost three years later. In about 2005 the parties separated, but remained sleeping in separate rooms in the same house. They regarded the marriage as finally having broken down in March 2010 and in June 2011, an agreement was reached that the father would move out of the family home in Suburb A, which he did.
There was an interim hearing as to the appropriate parenting arrangements for the children. Those orders have been in place since early August 2011 and by agreement will continue, at least during school terms.
This is a case of competing applications for parenting orders in respect of two children, aged 11 and 8 years old. The parties already resolved the property dispute, and what remains were the issues of parental responsibility, including the time to be spent with each parent. However, the mother filed a petition seeking sole parental responsibility for all matters involving religious instruction of the children.
- Whether or not the parents can have equal parental responsibility?
- Whether or not the mother can have sole parental responsibility over the children’s religion?
- On the first issue, the court ruled that In all other respects the parents shall have joint parental responsibility relating to the children’s welfare. This may represent inconvenience to the parents, but the basis for this determination is the best interests of the children and not adult inconvenience.
- On the second issue, the court ruled that, there is no need for orders at all in relation to religious observation. There is no conflict between the parents in terms of parental responsibility that request a mechanism for conflict resolution. The parties have agreed and continue to agree, that the children will continue as members of the Anglican Church.
There is no evidence that the father has attempted to convert the children to his faith, or to subvert their confidence in their mother’s guidance. It will be a positive benefit for the children to come to understand that within the overall Christian faith, there are different points of view. Accordingly, there is an order for both parents to share equally in parental responsibility. There is simply a difference of religious preference between the parents, which has had no adverse impact on the children. There is no need for interference by the Court in this aspect of the children’s lives.
This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice . It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a Family Lawyer when contemplating a separation or soon after a relationship comes to an end. It is noted that publication of this judgment by this Court under the pseudonym Fern & Fern has been approved by the Chief Justice pursuant to s 121(9)(g) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.