The presumption under law is that each parent has equal shared responsibility for their children when they are below the age of 18. This is still the case even after divorce, separation or remarriage. This presumption can be rebutted when there are reasonable grounds to conclude that it is not in the child’s best interests to have equal shared parental responsibility.

A separate agreement must be made, where the main three options are:

1. The parents work together to make a parenting plan;
2. A consent order is made that the courts approve; or
3. The courts implement an enforceable parenting order.

Parenting Plans
This is a written agreement that lists the parenting arrangements for the children. This is a good option if you, as parents, are both in agreement as it means you do not have to go to court. This is not a legally enforceable agreement meaning it can be flexible and subject to change, as long as there is no court order to say otherwise.

Consent Orders
This is a written agreement that a court has approved after it has been made. It is therefore a legally enforceable agreement.

Parenting Orders
These usually are made when parents cannot agree about the arrangements for their children. The court makes these orders so as to safeguard the best interests of the children. The court will take into account various factors when making a parenting order.

The two main factors are (1) the benefit the child will have by having a meaningful relationship with both parents and other important people like grandparents and (2) the child is protected from both physical and psychological harm. The court will also look at which parent can provide for the best interests of the children.

The court will also try not to separate siblings unless it is necessary for the child’s welfare. The opinion of the children can be taken into account as well, especially if they are older.