Responsibility, Time and Financial Support

The Family Law Act 1975 declares that when the parents of minor children part, each is equally responsible for the children. This means that both parents have the right to partake in the important decisions pertaining to their children. These decisions typically relate to such issues as education and health.

There are exceptions to the premise of shared responsibility. Under the following circumstances, a court could rule otherwise

  • If there has been child abuse or family violence or
  • If shared responsibility is not in the best interests of the child.

Shared responsibly should not be confused with equal time. Equal time will only apply if the parents agree to it, or where the court rules that this should be so.

Both parents are responsible for the financial support of the child.

Under the Family Law Act 1975, the best interests of the child apply to all decisions taken.

The Act and Related Services

The Family Law Act handles all legal issues that relate to the rights of children and the duties (rather than the rights) of their parents. The aim of the Act is to protect children. It also seeks to help them to have a close relationship with both parents.

Disputes about children are dealt with through family dispute resolution. Dispute Resolution should precede any appeal to the courts. The only exceptions should relate to matters of urgency. These would include violence or child abuse.

Children from families who are separating can approach the Supporting Children After Separation Program (SCASP) services for assistance in dealing with problems related to the separation. This relates to decisions that will influence their lives. SCASP services are community-based organisations that are present throughout the country.

Where there may be safety concerns, Children’s Contact Services help children to keep in contact with their other parent or other members of the family.

If help is required in making financial contributions to the upkeep of children the child support scheme is there.