Expert Parenting Support

When it comes to children, your parental responsibility for your children doesn’t end with the breakdown of a relationship. Their safety and best interests remain paramount. At AFLAS we’ll guide you through your journey and give you access to resources that can help should any parenting dispute arise, no matter your circumstances.

Parental responsibility - children and family law

In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 is gender-neutral and children legally have the right to spend time with and have a meaningful relationship with both their parents – unless a Court decides otherwise – provided the children are protected from harm. We are here to help you understand your parenting options, duties and responsibilities.

Your guide to parenting matters

No matter whether you are married, in a de facto relationship, have never been in a relationship, are separated or otherwise, we’ll help you get advice and support for your unique parenting situation. 

What is parental responsibility in the eyes of the law?

In Australia, family law and parenting matters apply to all parents: 

  • birth parents
  • adoptive parents
  • parents through artificial conception or surrogacy 
  • individuals under a presumption of parentage
  • Individuals who a court has determined have parental responsibility for a child or children

Parents have a legal duty of care and parental responsibility for a child which continues until the child turns 18.  

Children have the right to proper parenting, to know and be cared for by both of their parents and to be protected from harm, from being exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. They have the right to parenting that helps them achieve their full potential and to spend time and communicate on a regular basis with both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development. They have the right to be educated, to have medical care and to enjoy their culture. “Parental responsibility” means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law parents have in relation to children.

Under Australian law, parental responsibility is the obligation and duty  parents have to make long-term decisions about a child’s:

  • Current and future education
  • Religious and cultural upbringing
  • Health
  • Name
  • Changes to the child’s living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent

What are your rights as a parent?

In Australia, parents don’t have rights – only children have rights. Parents have obligations, duties and responsibilities towards their children. The default position at law is that parents have equal shared parental responsibility for their children – the power, responsibility and authority to make joint decisions about the long-term welfare of their children.  

If you and the other parent cannot agree about – for example – where your child should live or attend school, neither one of you is to make a unilateral decision about a long-term issue to do with your child. You must reach a joint decision – in short, you must agree. If you cannot agree, you should not make a decision. You must consult with one another about what is in the long term best interests of your child and attempt to reach a joint decision. Where you cannot do so, you are required to participate in what is known as “compulsory family dispute resolution”.  

Also, when it comes to parenting time, there is no 50-50 rule. The amount of time a child spends with both parents is individual to each family. Decisions about how much time a child should spend with a parent or whether or not they should live with another are decisions determined by what is considered in that child’s best interests.  

Primarily, your child has the right to spend time and live with both parents to the maximum extent possible, except when to do so would expose your child to harm, abuse or neglect. In the absence of there being any risk to your child of being harmed or likely to be harmed by the other parent, you should consider whether or not your child spending equal time with both parents is in your child’s long term best interests (unless where to do so would be impracticable).  

If you agree your child should live with one parent and spend time with the other, then the time your child spends with the other ought to include the following (where there is no risk of harm, abuse or neglect):

  • Days and nights that fall on weekends 
  • Days and nights that fall during the week
  • At times that permit you to be part of the child’s routines and participate in extracurricular activities with your child
  • On special occasions (e.g. your birthday, your child’s birthday)
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Christmas and Easter 
  • Any other religious festivals your child would ordinarily participate in

Agreeing on these arrangements can be difficult, especially when your children are very young or are older and have expressed strong views. Whatever your situation, we can help support and guide you through your parenting journey.

Supporting you in your family unit journey

The physical, emotional and psychological safety and wellbeing of children comes first. At AFLAS, we’ll support and guide you so you can be assured you are going about considering your child’s living arrangements in a way that takes into account their best interests and shields them from any dispute between you and the other parent.  

Our platform will give you access to comprehensive resources, so you can make informed decisions regardless of your background or family structure. Check out our resources that can help you with the right advice.

Why Choose ?

The information you need and ways you can prepare
Relevant tools and resources
Understand your legal, financial and property rights from a trusted expert
Long-term support, including fairness checks in agreements

Our most Frequently
Asked Questions

Who looks after your kids if you cannot?

The most common scenario where this occurs is when a grandparent’s child is unable, unwilling, or unfit to care for the grandchild or the parent/s have died, are missing, have abandoned the child, are in jail or have been removed by child protective services. This means that the children will be put under out-of-home care (OoHC) which in some circumstances can be a path to adoption.

What does equal parental responsibility mean?

Equal shared parental responsibility means that you and your child’s other parent equally share the powers, authority and obligations parent by law have and that one parent cannot unilaterally make long-term decisions for a child – but rather that such decisions are to be made jointly in consultation with one another. In parenting disputes before the Court, the Court can change this so as to give one parent rather than the other, such powers, authority and obligations. This is known as “sole parental responsibility” – when a parent has sole parental responsibility they are not required to consult with the other parent or reach a joint decision about long term welfare issues regarding their child. They can make such decisions on their own.   This is often the case where one parent poses an unacceptable risk of physical, emotional, psychological abuse or neglect towards the child.

How to apply for sole parental responsibility in Australia?

To get sole parental responsibility in Australia you will have to apply for a court order from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

How to remove parental responsibility from an absent father?

The only way to do this is through a court order from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. If you live in a regional or remote area, your local Magistrates Court may exercise jurisdiction under the Family Law Act (Cth) 1975 where urgent orders for parental responsibility are needed. Please, seek legal guidance.

We’re here to guide you through the process from start to finish. With access to the right information at your fingertips, you can feel confident that you’re doing everything in the best way possible in the circumstances you are facing. And, most importantly, that you have support.