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Equal shared parental responsibility


Watson & Watson received instructions (February 2012) to act on behalf of the father who lived overseas whilst the children of the relationship lived with the mother in Australia. Our client wanted to be involved in the children’s lives however had for various reasons been excluded from the children’s lives. The mother made an application for sole parental responsibility even though she had in effect such. Watson & Watson wondered why a mother would take this risk but this was what she did at significant cost to the mother. The proceedings encouraged the father to get more involved and the father sought equal shared parental responsibility. This was opposed by the mother who submitted to the Court that, as the father was not in Australia, the father should not have equal shared parental responsibility.

Equal shared parental responsibility is very important. Parents who have equal shared parental responsibility must consult with each other on decisions affecting their children’s long-term care, welfare and development and, importantly, must not make decisions on relocating the children that would make it more difficult for one parent to spend time with the children.

If a Court orders equal shared parental responsibility then the Family Law Act provides that the Court must consider each parent having equal shared time if reasonably practicable and in the best interests of the children.

Watson & Watson was successful in submitting on behalf of the father that the Court should order equal shared parental responsibility for the father even though he had not been significantly involved for some time and was in a different country from where the children were located.

Far was not too far. One wonders why the mother would have taken the significant risk that she did in bringing the proceedings which were at a great cost to her.

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