On 1 July 2006 the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 came into effect.
This legislation focuses on facilitating the rights of children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents by encouraging parents to share responsibility for their children post separation.
Since 1 July 2006 a legal presumption exists that parents have “shared parental responsibility” for their children. Shared Parental Responsibility means that parents share in making major long term decisions pertaining to their children. This presumption can only be rebutted by evidence establishing abuse or family violence.
If the presumption is not rebutted then parents are obliged to consult with each other in an attempt to agree on such matters as education, healthcare and the cultural upbringing of the child.
A further effect of Shared Parental Responsibility amendment is that where the presumption has not been rebutted in an Application for Parenting Orders, the Court must consider making orders that the child spend equal time or significant and substantial time with each parent unless this would be contrary to the child’s best interests or not reasonably practicable.
Significant and substantial time requires that there be periods that both fall on weekends, during the week and on holidays, where possible.