Equal parental responsibility is failing children, inquiry hears

Australia’s family law system is failing to protect children by misleading separated parents into believing their children have to spend time with their ex-partner, even if they are dangerous, one of the nation’s largest children’s charities has warned.

Save the Children Australia chief executive Paul Ronalds said in his organisation’s submission to the parliamentary inquiry into family law that “Australia’s family law system is still not dealing with child protection issues adequately or appropriately”.

Separated parents are entitled to a presumption of “equal shared parental responsibility” under Australian law, which means courts start from a presumption that each parent gets an equal say in major decisions about their children, not equal time with them.

Australia’s family courts are overburdened with cases involving allegations of abuse.Credit:John Donegan

But the Australian Law Reform Commission, which delivered a major report on the family law system last year, found the provision was being misinterpreted to mean both parents should see the child for the same amount of time.


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