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What is equal shared parental responsibility?

Happy Children

Equal shared parental responsibility is not the same thing as equal time with a child. It refers to the responsibility for making major long term decisions.

This means the parents will need to jointly make decisions about the long term care of their child. It requires parents to consult and make a genuine effort to come to a joint decision about these issues.

These decisions include where the child will live, go to school, medical treatment and religion. This means that one parent can’t unilaterally decide to move and take the child interstate to live, for example.

Court’s presumption of equal shared parental responsibility

The court is required to presume it is in a child’s best interests for the parents to have equal shared parental responsibility.

A court order for ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ does not include day to day decisions.


There is no requirement for parents to consult about day to day issues when the child is with them.


Decisions such as what a child will eat, wear or what time they will go to bed, remain with the person who is caring for the child at the time.

It is important to note that the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility will not apply if the court believes one party has engaged in abuse of a child or family violence.


Does equal shared parental responsibility mean equal time?

If the court makes an order for equal shared parental responsibility, this does not mean the child will automatically spend equal time with each parent.

It is something the court is required to consider but the court will make separate orders about the time a child spends with each parent. When deciding on this issue, the court will make orders based on what it considers to be in the best interests of the child.

What next?

If you'd like some more information about separation and the steps you should be taking, be sure to check out our Separation Guide.


It will take you through things step by step.

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