Sole Parental Responsibility

You as a parent, automatically have the ability to exercise parental responsibility, meaning you and the other parent are able to make major long-term decisions for your child both together and individually. In the event you cannot agree about the major long-term decisions for your child, it is possible to apply to the Court for an Order providing you with Sole Parental Responsibility.

An Order for Sole Parental Responsibility means that you can make all of the major long-term decisions for your child without having to consult the other parent. This means you can solely make decisions about:

  • Education;
  • Health;
  • Religion;
  • Culture;
  • Name; and
  • Where the child lives.

Practically speaking, it also means you can apply for a passport without the need for the other parent’s signature.

As you can see, the kinds of decisions a parent with Sole Parental Responsibility can make are serious and the Court does not make an Order of this kind lightly. In fact, the Court will presume that parents have Equal Shared Parental Responsibility unless:

  • There are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent has committed Family Violence; or
  • There are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent has abused the child or another child who was/is a member of the family; or
  • It would not be in the child’s best interests.

You can only have parental responsibility by Order of the Court. The Application process can be long and painful. Often an Application of this kind will also be seeking Orders about who your child lives with and the time your child spends with you and the other parent. Allegations of family violence and/or abuse require specific and clear facts set out in an affidavit form with your other, relevant evidence. We recommend seeking advice from a legal professional practising exclusively in family law prior to filing an Application of this kind.


Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?


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