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Newbie question: Sole parental responsibility, any obligations?

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Hey mates, I am a new step dad here and a little out of my depth with the internet group things like this and legal stuff.
my wife used to be on the ball with this all but when her ex got the kids she lost all her energy to deal with it and is procrastinating seeking help, that's how i landed here, found you all on Google and hope you are welcoming to all not just dads seeking to have time with their kids like most groups seem to be.
To get to the point, I am are after some advice on if sole parental responsibility comes with any obligations specifically with schooling the father has sole parental responsibility to choose the "appropriate high school", now the father has stated he wants to move eldest stepchildren to go to a school a few metres from his house so children can walk home. This is fair enough in my opinion but we have weekday time with the children too and this presents a problem as the younger stepchildren and my own children go to primary school still which starts at the same time as the high school and finishes 5 minutes after the high school so there is no practical way to pick up all the children for our time together. We feel the wording "acceptable" high school includes meaning that we can still have our court ordered time with the children, the fathers attitude is figure something out or we will not get time with the children or his suggestion is we loose 4 days with the children and only have them on Saturday till Sunday every other weekend.
wondering if anyone knows where my wife and I would stand here? do we have to try to find a solution to the impossible or does he have to ensure it does not present any difficulty with the spends time order.
I don't know how to deal with this as we are looking at moving next year and the father knows this, this is why he is giving us these options but the father himself moves suburbs every year so I don't feel that should come into the equation when next year he may change the school yet again to be closer to his new house.
He has according to you sole parental responsibility and appropriate high school. If this impacts on another order the 'sole responsibility' technically overrides the contact order but this would depend upon the circumstances of why sole responsibility was either agreed to or ordered by the Court.

It is not up to him to facilitate or make contact with other children easier.

If you cannot agree with him on other arrangements then the matter would have to go to FRC and then Court and this might take 6 or more months to get resolved
How far away from the highschool are you ? Dont all highschools and primarys finish and start at rougly the same time ? Which means no matter what highschool stepchild goes to there is going to be an issue with drop offs and pick up times.
Can you utilize afterschool care or have a school frined drop stepchild off after school ? Or if its far a bus perhaps?
mad4ford said
… To get to the point, I am are after some advice on if sole parental responsibility comes with any obligations specifically with schooling… the father has sole parental responsibility to choose the "appropriate high school", now the father has stated he wants to move eldest stepchildren to go to a school a few metres from his house so children can walk home. This is fair enough in my opinion but we have weekday time with the children too and this presents a problem as the younger stepchildren and my own children go to primary school still which starts at the same time as the high school and finishes 5 minutes after the high school so there is no practical way to pick up all the children for our time together.

We feel the wording "acceptable" high school includes meaning that we can still have our court ordered time with the children, the fathers attitude is figure something out or we will not get time with the children or his suggestion is we lose 4 days with the children and only have them on Saturday till Sunday every other weekend.
I would need to see the exact wording of the orders around Parental Responsibility but "Sole" means he is the sole responsible parent to determine where the children go to school and as an aside the main long term major issues affecting the children. You may need to look at creative options such as sending the child to the library after school on Pickup days or another parent picking up etc. There are usually a myriad of options when you sit down to explore them.

I would expect he should, but does not have to, consider the practicalities for the spends time with parent. It would seem the option to walk home from school would outweigh other options. If you are on reasonable talking terms it is a matter you could at least discuss and work out how you will arrange pickups. Can the eldest get a bus for example? Do you or can someone else collect who lives nearby and has children at that school or one of the child's mates may have a parent that lives near you. You could ask assistance at the school itself if they have any parents who live in your area and who collect their child?  
mad4ford said
… wondering if anyone knows where my wife and I would stand here? do we have to try to find a solution to the impossible or does he have to ensure it does not present any difficulty with the spends time order.

I don't know how to deal with this as we are looking at moving next year and the father knows this, this is why he is giving us these options but the father himself moves suburbs every year so I don't feel that should come into the equation when next year he may change the school yet again to be closer to his new house.
I would suggest changing suburbs every year might well get you over the Rice and Asplund threshold where you could go back to get better and more practical orders if these are not working. Worth exploring with an experienced FAMILY LAW legal practitioner. My colleague has suggested the Family Relationship Centre for mediation on the issue if you cannot speak freely but your partner will need to engage in this matter. I also note the "Guest" has made some relevant remarks. Changing school mid-way through a program is not desirable nor mid-way through a term.

Some notes extracted from a recent paper I produced on parenting matters and relevant is the Shared Parental Responsibility commentary:

What does it mean?
It means parents need to exert their best efforts to work co-operatively in making plans consistent with the best interests of the children and in amicably resolving disputes as they arise in matters that relate to major long term issues.
When you have shared parental responsibility, you will need to make an effort to come to joint decisions about major long-term issues.

However, when the child is spending time with you, you will not usually need to consult on decisions about daily life things like what the child eats or wears because these are not usually major long-term issues.

Shared parental responsibility is about major long-term issues and not the things you usually do day to day.

What are major long term issues?
Major long-term issues, in relation to a child, means issues about the care, welfare and development of the child of a long-term nature and includes (but is not limited to) issues of that nature about:
(a) the childs education (both current and future); and
(b) the childs religious and cultural upbringing; and
(c ) the childs health; and
(d) the childs name; and
(e) changes to the childs living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent.

To avoid doubt, a decision by a parent of a child to form a relationship with a new partner is not, of itself, a major long-term issue in relation to the child. However, the decision will involve a major long-term issue if, for example, the relationship with the new partner involves the parent moving to another area and the move will make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with the other parent.

Do I have to share parental responsibility?
Where there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a parent of a child (or a person who lives with the parent) has engaged in family violence or child abuse then shared parental responsibility is a fundamental part of the Family Law Act that is given by default and you need to consider the implications carefully.

Who has it?
Unless a parent goes to court to argue against the other parent having shared parental responsibility THEN BOTH will have it by default.
Both parents, by default, have Shared Parental responsibility and therefore continue to have a full and active role in providing a sound social, economic, educational and moral environment for their children.
Parents exercising Shared Parental Responsibility need to consult with one another on substantial questions relating to education and educational programs (both current and future), religious upbringing, cultural upbringing; significant changes in social environment, the child' s health care; the child's name, and changes to the child's living arrangements that would make it significantly more difficult for a child to spend time with a parent.

What if I don't agree to shared Parental responsibility
If you do not agree to shared parental responsibility then it is probable the other parent will want you to agree to the provisions by either insisting on mediation, at an accredited mediation centre, or after having entered mediation and you not agreeing to some arrangements then possibly having a decision made by a Family Court Judge.
Whenever a court decides that the parents will have equal shared parental responsibility, it is also obliged to and MUST:
(a) consider whether the child spending equal time with each of the parents would be in the best interests of the child; and
(b) consider whether the child spending equal time with each of the parents is reasonably practicable; and
(c ) if it is, consider making an order to provide (or including a provision in the order) for the child to spend equal time with each of the parents.
(d) consider whether the child spending substantial and significant time with each of the parents is reasonably practicable; and
(e) if it is, consider making an order to provide (or including a provision in the order) for the child to spend substantial and significant time with each of the parents.

What Does Substantial and Significant Time Mean?
Substantial and significant time refers to a child spending time with both parents on a mix of weekends, holidays, and regular week days. It means both parents are involved in the child's daily life as well as sharing in special events, birthdays and family and other events of significance, such as weddings. Obviously a court will take into consideration the age and developmental stages of the child to create a meaningful and active role in the child's life for both parents.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Thanks for response.
To explain a bit more their are children of his and my wife's at both high school and primary school so it is not just my kids at the primary school, else we would just change our kids together to a school closest to the high school. The current orders set what primary school his and my wife's children must keep attending. The high school is 5 suburbs over from us, 6 from the primary school.
In this area the high schools are varied in bell times, there are 3 schools between the fathers home and ours that would suit all parties for pick up and drop off as older children could be picked up on way home from primary school pick up.
 After a few discussions with the father via email it seems like it is a new ploy to cut our time down, he says we have to choose if we want contact with older children or younger - he says catching bus, waiting at school or them even catching a taxi home from school for the older ones is unacceptable.
Without saying to much my wife lost the kids because we were being severely harassed by the other side but yet judge refused to look at the evidence of it, it was then taken as other side was true because they continually denied it. It has not stopped since either, this is why we are looking at moving.
We have discussed taking it back to court, it will soon be two years since the order but as I said issues haven't stopped, there are issues of children wearing badly ripped school uniforms, children being left in car while father and his wife go to a movie or dinner so they can have alone time, children coming home with burns from apparent too hot food and they are not small burns. One of the older ones is acting out violently at school and wants to live with us, we believe this child's statements is why sudden change in school and making things difficult for us. Wife is going to seek legal advice on this part when we can afford it.

Do you have a Community Legal Centre or Neighbourhood Centre near you?

These places offer free legal advice, and may be able to assist your wife in her decision as to whether she wishes to try to have the orders altered.

I think though, that as the orders are over 12 months old that your wife will need to attempt the mediation process again. Regardless of whether her ex attends or not, your wife will still need to take this first step in the process if she wishes to have the current orders changed.

In regard to the current orders, if they state that the children are in your wife's care from after school on certain days, then it is really none of her ex's business as to how you make your arrangements for the children when they are on your time, as long as you are not negligently putting the children at the risk of harm. Whilst it would possibly be seen as being irresponsible to leave primary school age children waiting at school whilst you collected older, high school age children from their school, the same cannot be said if this was reversed, i.e. that you collected the younger children at the usual time, and the older one/s waited at school until you could get there. Alternatively, children of high school age are certainly old enough to be traveling on public transport to and from school.

We had a similar situation where my husbands ex wanted it put into orders that he had to personally collect his 10yo child from school. My husband objected to this, stating that the school bus stop was just around the corner, and that the child could catch the school bus, just like the other children in our street. The Federal Magistrate agreed with my husband.:thumbs:

Perhaps your wife just needs to stand her ground on this matter. It is certainly nothing out of the ordinary for children to catch a bus to/from school.

A child is a gift, not a weapon. To be a parent is a privilege, one which unfortunately some parents do not deserve.
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