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For the basics about parental responsibilty and what applies if there is no Parenting Court Order or the Court is not being asked to make a Parenting Order, read our fact sheet What is Parental Responsibility and what Order will the Court make.
The presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility comes into play if a Court is asked to make a Parenting Order for a Child.
The legal effect of the presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility is that when making a parenting order, the Court will usually approach the issue with the presumption that it is in the “best interests of the child” that their parents have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.
Equal shared parental responsibility is not the parents having equal time with their children or shared care of their children.
Equal shared parental responsibility requires parents to consult each other and make joint decisions about major long-term issues for the child.
If equal shared parental responsibility applies, then the parents must consult each other and make a genuine effort to attempt to make decisions jointly in relation to any major long term issues for their Child.
The presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility only applies to "major long term issues" for a Child. It does not apply to short term day to day only decisions. To find out what are considered to be "major long term issues" for a Child, read our fact sheet What are Major Long Term Issues.
See also our fact sheet Who makes the long term, short term and day to day decisions for their Child.
The concept of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility only comes into operation once a Court is being asked to make a parenting order.
The presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility also means that if a Court is making a Parenting Order as to the time a Child is to spend with each of their parents, and the court accepts that the presumption applies, then there is a particular process the court must apply to decide what time would be in the best interests of the child.
First the court must consider whether it would be in the best interests of the child to spend equal time with both parents or if not, then "Substantial and Significant Time".
The court does not have to make an order for shared care or the children to spend equal time with both parents for Equal Shared Parental Responsibility to apply.
The Court can find that the presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibilty applies and make that order, but still order that a Child spend most of their time living with only one parent, spending some time with the other parent.
To find out if Equal Shared Parental Responsibility might apply to your situation, read our fact sheet Will Equal Shared Parental Responsibility apply.
If the presumption of Equal Shared Parental Parental Responsibility is successfully rebutted, then the Court might consider instead making an Order for Sole Parental Responsibility.
To learn what Sole Parental Responsibility means, read our fact sheet What is Sole Parental Responsibility.
To understand when Sole Parental Responsibility might apply, see our fact sheet When will Sole Parental Responsibility apply.
Other Questions answered in the Parental Responsibility & Child's Time with each Parent Sections
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