The Family Law Act presumes that shared parental responsibility is in the best interest of the child. In a parenting order, it will be specified by the court whether the parental responsibility is shared or otherwise. If the order is a shared responsibility, decisions on major long-term issues must be made jointly by the parents and after proper consultation with each other. Parties must then make a genuine effort to decide jointly on major long-term issues.
Parental responsibility can actually be shared by two or more persons and is meant to encourage a co-operative approach towards parenting and less adversarial court proceedings. While parents need to consult each other on major long-term issues, day to day decisions (those unrelated to the long-term care, welfare and development of the child) are left to the parent or person with whom the child is spending time with. However, there is no responsibility to prove that a decision is made jointly if the other parent or party does not share parental responsibility.
The Family Law Act clearly states that both of the parents are held responsible for the welfare of their children up to the age of 18 years and that any arrangements which are made must always be in the best interests of the child.
The Act also states that there are two types of considerations, primary considerations and additional considerations. In the case of primary considerations, this relates to the child benefiting from a meaningful relationship with its parents and that he or she is protected from psychological or physical harm.
Additional factors are those related to the child’s views and maturity level, the child’s relationship with each of the parents, how keen each parent is in wishing the child to maintain an ongoing relationship with the other parent and the practicalities for the child when spending time with a parent, including financial effects.