Changes to the Family Law Act 1975 made by the Family Law Amendment Act 2023 came into force on 6 May 2024. Some of these changes clarify and simplify how separated parents make decisions about their children.

Parental Responsibility is a term that refers to who gets to make decisions about long-term issues relating to children such as healthcare, education and religion. Previously there was a presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, meaning that both parents were required to reach a joint decision about long-term issues such as which school a child should attend, what religion they are raised in and whether the child should receive a significant medial intervention.

After the amendments, the Act makes it clear that an order to make decisions jointly or for one parent to have sole responsibility for making all or some of these decisions will be based on what is in the best interests of the child.

The Act clarifies that without court orders, separated parents, when it is safe to do so, should consult with one another and try to reach an agreement regarding these long-term decisions. Parents do not need to reach an agreement on day-to-day issues such as what a child wears, eats or watches on television. These decisions can generally be made solely by the parent whom the child is with at the time.

Written by Karen Barber


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