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Posted on 18 March 2024 

Zoe Foley



Currently, under sections 61D and 61DB of The Family Law Act 1975, there is a presumption that parents have equal shared parental responsibility when a court is making parenting orders.

This means that at a starting point, it is in the best interest of the child to spend equal and substantial/significant time with each parent. This also means that the parents are to share equally the duties, powers and responsibilities of a parent, such as making long term decisions about the child.  

Removing the presumption (section 61DA) is to stop the misconception about the rule, which is parenting arrangements after separation are based on a parents entitlement to equal time, rather than what arrangements serve the child’s best interest. Parenting arrangements should not be influenced by a misunderstanding about parental rights and responsibilities.  

The removal of the presumption is also to ensure the law focuses on the child’s needs, especially in matters where there are allegations of family violence or complex issues.  

What does that mean for you as a parent?  

The new amendments provide that parenting orders regarding major long-term decisions now include a provision for either joint decision-making or sole decision-making. This means the possibility of assigning sole parental responsibility for certain issues while maintaining joint decision-making for other significant long-term matters. In the new section 60CC factors, these determinations are now solely guided by the child's best interests.  

Importantly, particularly for schools and medical/mental health practitioners, the amendments specify that any other party is not obligated to support a joint decision before acting on a decision communicated by a person with decision-making authority. 

Section 61DAB of the amendments clarifies that parents are not obligated to consult each other on decisions that are not major long-term issues when the child is under their care. This resolution addresses longstanding tensions regarding parental authority while the child is in their care, once an order has been made in respect to responsibility for making major long-term decisions.  


Overall parental responsibility is crucial in parenting orders and provides certainty for making important decisions that are in the best interest of the children. Prior to making any decisions, contact us today for an obligation-free complimentary phone consultation with our experienced family law team. Call (07) 3733 2962 or email 

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