Shared Parental Responsibility
Shared parental responsibility does not mean the child will spend equal time with each parent.
The presumption of equal shared parental responsibility is rebutted if the court is satisfied that there has been a family violence or abuse of the child.
Other factors such as inability of the parents to reasonably or adequately communicate with each other regarding matters of importance to the child such as health, education and religion, and, lack of trust between the parents may be sufficient to satisfy the court that it is not in the best interests of the child for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility.
Section 60CC sets out how a court determines what is in a child’s best interests as follows:
Determining child’s best interests
(1) Subject to subsection (5), in determining what is in the child’s best interests, the court must consider the matters set out in subsections (2) and (3).
(2) The primary considerations are:
(a) the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents; and
(b) the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
Note: Making these considerations the primary ones is consistent with the objects of this Part set out in paragraphs 60B(1)(a) and (b).
(3) Additional considerations are:
(a) any views expressed by the child and any factors (such as the child’s maturity or level of understanding) that the court thinks are relevant to the weight it should give to the child’s views;
(b) the nature of the relationship of the child with:
(i) each of the child’s parents; and
(ii) other persons (including any grandparent or other relative of the child);
(c) the willingness and ability of each of the child’s parents to facilitate, and encourage, a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent;
(d) the likely effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances, including the likely effect on the child of any separation from:
(i) either of his or her parents; or
(ii) any other child, or other person (including any grandparent or other relative of the child), with whom he or she has been living;
(e) the practical difficulty and expense of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent and whether that difficulty or expense will substantially affect the child’s right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis;
(f) the capacity of:
(i) each of the child’s parents; and
(ii) any other person (including any grandparent or other relative of the child);
to provide for the needs of the child, including emotional and intellectual needs;
(g) the maturity, sex, lifestyle and background (including lifestyle, culture and traditions) of the child and of either of the child’s parents, and any other characteristics of the child that the court thinks are relevant;
(h) if the child is an Aboriginal child or a Torres Strait Islander child:
(i) the child’s right to enjoy his or her Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture (including the right to enjoy that culture with other people who share that culture); and
(ii) the likely impact any proposed parenting order under this Part will have on that right;
(i) the attitude to the child, and to the responsibilities of parenthood, demonstrated by each of the child’s parents;
(j) any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family;
(k) any family violence order that applies to the child or a member of the child’s family, if:
(i) the order is a final order; or
(ii) the making of the order was contested by a person;
(l) whether it would be preferable to make the order that would be least likely to lead to the institution of further proceedings in relation to the child;
(m) any other fact or circumstance that the court thinks is relevant.
(4) Without limiting paragraphs (3)(c) and (i), the court must consider the extent to which each of the child’s parents has fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, his or her responsibilities as a parent and, in particular, the extent to which each of the child’s parents:
(a) has taken, or failed to take, the opportunity:
(i) to participate in making decisions about major long‑term issues in relation to the child; and
(ii) to spend time with the child; and
(iii) to communicate with the child; and
(b) has facilitated, or failed to facilitate, the other parent:
(i) participating in making decisions about major long‑term issues in relation to the child; and
(ii) spending time with the child; and
(iii) communicating with the child; and
(c) has fulfilled, or failed to fulfil, the parent’s obligation to maintain the child.
(4A) If the child’s parents have separated, the court must, in applying subsection (4), have regard, in particular, to events that have happened, and circumstances that have existed, since the separation occurred.
(5) If the court is considering whether to make an order with the consent of all the parties to the proceedings, the court may, but is not required to, have regard to all or any of the matters set out in subsection (2) or (3).
Right to enjoy Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture
(6) For the purposes of paragraph (3)(h), an Aboriginal child’s or a Torres Strait Islander child’s right to enjoy his or her Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture includes the right:
(a) to maintain a connection with that culture; and
(b) to have the support, opportunity and encouragement necessary:
(i) to explore the full extent of that culture, consistent with the child’s age and developmental level and the child’s views; and
(ii) to develop a positive appreciation of that culture.