When does Sole Parental Responsibility apply

When will a Court Order one Parent to have Sole Parental Responsibility for a Child? 

When A Court is making a Parenting Order and so considering all child issues and parenting arrangements should apply, the Family Law Act requires that a presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility applies, unless the presumption can be successfully rebutted.

You may be able to be successful in rebutting the presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility, so that it does not apply, if you can prove that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent, or a person who lives with a parent of a child, has engaged in:

  • family violence; or
  • abuse of the child or another child who, at the time, was a member of the parent’s family (or that other person’s family).

It will almost always not be enough to suggest that there is only a minor risk of family violence or child abuse.



To have the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility not apply, the presumption will need to be rebutted by evidence which satisfies the court, that it would not be in the child’s best interests for the child’s parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.

If the court does not make an Order for equal shared parental responsibility then they may make an order for Sole Parental Responsibility.

An order for Sole Parental Responsibility might be made in a case that has high conflict between the parents, in which circumstances it may be in the best interests of the child to give responsibility to only one parent to help minimise the amount of future conflict that would occur if they had to consult each other on major long term issues for the child.

A court might also make an Order for Sole Parental Responsibility if the parents are unable to communicate effectively and they have very strong views which conflict on a major long term issue such as education, health or religion, because it may be clear that the parents will not only never be able to reach agreement, but that they will also not be able to communicate their decisions on such issues to the other parent.

Major long term issues are of such importance in a child’s life, that if decisions about them bring uncertainty and high conflict, that is unlikely to be in the child’s best interests.

Having said that, a court will not grant sold parental responsibility just because the parents have poor communication.

A parent may not want Sole Parental Responsibilty for all 5 of the major long term issues but only one or two of those issues.

Child’s Time with Parents & Parental Responsibility: More Information 

We also have the following Fact Sheets which will provide you with more information on this topic:


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