Parents’ rights under the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act)
There are no explicit rights for parents in the Act and a parent cannot choose to terminate their parental rights.
Parental duties, powers, responsibilities and authority
Each parent has parental responsibility for each of their children until they turn 18 years of age. If the parents have separated or remarry their parental responsibilities do not change because of the changes in the parents’ relationships.
Under the Act parental responsibility, in relation to a child, means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to children.
It is the parents’ duty to protect their child from harm and to provide their child food, clothing and a place to live, financial support, safety, supervision, medical care and education.
Equal shared parental responsibility
Under the Act there is a presumption that “equal shared parental responsibility” is in the best interests of children.
The presumption does not apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent of the child or a person who lives with a parent of the child has engaged in child abuse or family violence.
If the parents have agreed how to share their parental responsibilities they can apply to the Family Court for parenting consent orders to reflect their agreement. If the parents cannot agree about the arrangements for their children they or other persons can apply to the Family Court for parenting orders.
- the person or persons with whom a child is to live;
- the time a child is to spend with another person or other persons;
- the allocation of parental responsibility for a child;
- if 2 or more persons are to share parental responsibility for a child–the form of consultations those persons are to have with one another about decisions to be made in the exercise of that responsibility;
- the communication a child is to have with another person or other persons;
- maintenance of a child if the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 does not apply
- the process to be used for resolving disputes about the terms or operation of the order;
- any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child.
Suggested way forward