When parents are married or in a relationship, they are free to make a decision as they choose in relation to the children. It is a general assumption that family decisions are made together always considering the best interests of the children. In circumstances where parents separate the presumption of sharing in the making of long-term and significant issues in the children’s life does not change.
There is a presumption under the Family Law Act 1975 that both parties have equal shared parental responsibility unless a court determines otherwise. Joint decision making ensures that neither parent is permitted to make unilateral major decisions for the children.
Whenever a major decision is needed the parents must mutually agree before moving forward. At this time of year, parents may be making decisions in relation to relocation and about the school that the child will attend. It is important to understand that these decisions must be made in consultation with the other parent. In circumstances where the negotiations break down it may be necessary to attend mediation, call your lawyer or as a last resort involve the court in relation to these decisions.
Decision making as a parent is often difficult and it becomes even more difficult when you are making those decisions with a former partner. If you are unable to reach an agreement a unilateral decision is often not the most appropriate course and can see you significantly disadvantaged through the court system if it is determined that you acted unilaterally and not in the child’s best interest.
As always we strongly urge our clients to communicate with the other party in relation to all long-term decisions relating to your children.
If you need help with a matter, please call 1300 JOPLIN (1300 567 546) to arrange an appointment.