Custody of children

 

Understanding Family Law & Shared Parenting

Shared parenting and shared responsibility each has a specific meaning in Family Law and is based on the child/ren's best interest principle.

 

 

Shared Parenting

Shared Parenting is based on the principle that although parents have separated, the children should still continue to have a meaningful relationship with both parents (in most cases). This is considered to be in the child's best interest, which Family Law states is  the most important consideration when dealing with children. 

What is important to note is that 'shared parenting' is not measured by the amount of time spent with each parent.

To have quality time with your children is considered more important than quantity of time spent with your children. In some cases particularly if you live far away from your school aged children to have them stay overnight during the week, or you work long hours, do shift work or need to travel regularly with work, it may be best to have a more flexible arrangement which ensures that outside of these limitations, you are able to spend time good quality time with your children.

Be creative in the way you maintain contact. It may be via phone calls or on Skype. Talking on the phone can be made easier if you know their day to day routine, what they do after school, do they have dance, music or sport lessons, what time do they eat dinner, play, do their homework and go to bed. Try ringing at regular times so your children can expect and look forward to your calls.

For all parents, regardless how much time they spend with their children, when you're away, send them letters or cards, SMS messages, emails or Skype. 

When your children come to stay, try to make your place feel like home. If you can, give them their own room and let them choose their decor. If they can't have a room of their own, a bookcase or cupboard of their own will do.

Have photos of them and other important family members displayed and toys that they will like.

Keep basics such as toothbrushes, pyjamas, underwear etc at your home and most importantly... have fun. 

 

Shared responsibility 

Shared responsibility means that parents must consult with each other and share responsibility for decisions about major long term issues in regard to the children. Issues such as - 

  • The child's education
  • Religious and cultural upbringing
  • Health
  • Changes to the child's living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent. 

Family Law takes shared responsibility very seriously and therefore no one parent can be making these decisions independently and without consulting the other parent.