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20 June 2011 What rights do parents have to stop their ex's new partner taking part in raising their children

By Caroline Bass, Senior Associate

Joint parental responsibility

Without any court orders and usually with court orders (unless it is determined by the court that it is not in the best interests of the children), both parents have joint parental responsibility. This means that it is both parents’ responsibility, not that of a new partner of either one of them, to make decisions about the long-term issues that will affect the children.

Long-term decisions and day-to-day matters

Long term decisions involve such things as which schools the children will attend, what religion the children will be brought up in, any medical decisions, the living arrangements of the children and the names of the children. However, the day to day decisions about the children, such as their routines and who the children will see and spend time with, are usually determined by each parent at the time that the children are in their care. It is not necessary to discuss such day-to-day matters with the other parent.

Limits of your influence

Generally, you will not be able to decide whether the child will see or spend time with your former partner’s new partner unless there are safety concerns. Ultimately, it is the children that matter and if your former partner’s new partner is making an effort with them and being kind to them, that is the most important thing.  

It is recommended that you accept your former partner’s new partner and work through your emotions with close friends or a counsellor. If at all possible, try to reach an agreement with your former partner about what is reasonable and unreasonable.

Genuine safety concerns for your children

If you have genuine concerns about the safety of your children or the adverse impact of your former partner’s new partner on them, you should seek immediate legal advice. If you do have such concerns, it is possible to seek court orders restraining your partner from letting the children spend time with that person. A court will only grant such a restraint in circumstances where there are real concerns about the welfare of the children.  

For further information please contact:

Caroline Bass, Partner  |  Phone: +61 2 9233 5544  |  Email: cxb@swaab.com.au

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This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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