Skip to main content

Family Law in Canberra – Parenting consent orders: Misinterpreting the law?

By October 27, 2014No Comments

The concept of ‘equal parental responsibility’ is being misunderstood by parents and professionals, it has been argued by family law academics who are pushing for the legislation to be rewritten and greatly simplified. Even experienced judges are making errors leading to appeals on technical grounds, according to retired Family Court judge and academic, Professor Richard Chisholm.

The lengthy, complex and often confusing legislation has led to parents believing the law entitles them to equal time with their children, and it is believed consent orders are being drafted based on that misunderstanding. The concept of ‘equal parental responsibility’ is regarded as having inflated a sense of entitlement in parents, and motivations of seeking a fair outcome for both parents, rather than maintaining an emphasis on the best interests of the child.

The academics argue for a complete revision of the shared parenting laws, with Professor Chisholm having written a blueprint for such an overhaul of the laws. He said the law should provide clearer guidelines for parents and lawyers and prevent money being expended on technical legal arguments about interpretation of the law.

Professor Chisholm’s blueprint for simplifying the laws includes recasting the Family Law Act’s controversial presumption in favour of equal parental responsibility. His proposal — which would slash Part VII of the Family Law Act to about a fifth of its length — instead includes a presumption that it is in a child’s best interests for both parents to continue to have parental responsibility.

Professor Chisholm’s view is supported by Family Law Council chairwoman Helen Rhoades, as well as the architect of the Howard government’s family law reforms in question, Sydney -University Professor Patrick-Parkinson, who freely admits to a need to clarify the laws.

Read more:


Call Now Button