Shared Parental Responsibility Outcomes

 

shared-parenting-outcomes-reportThe aim was to encourage parents to consider, where appropriate, reaching an agreement regarding parenting arrangements in the first instance themselves rather than having the court as a first option.  The agreements were intended to be reached having regard to the change of legislation.

It was axiomatic that if the cases capable of resolution were diverted from the courts then both the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court would be dealing with a more difficult class of case. 

The Family Court in particular, deals with the most complex family law matters. These include parenting cases that may involve multiple parties, including those that involve a child welfare agency and/or allegations of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse of a child (Magellan cases), family violence, mental health and substance abuse issues and cases where a parent wishes to move interstate or overseas with a child.

In her State of the Nation address in 2006, Chief Justice Diana Bryant acknowledged the increasing complexity of the cases coming to the Family Court:

“It is those very cases that will be dealt with in the Family Court – cases of violence, abuse and entrenched conflict, which will, by their nature, be less likely to lead to the cooperative parenting that the government wants parties to have and the kind of orders that would support them.”

From the commencement of the legislation the Chief Justice decided that the court would, for the first time, endeavour to keep statistics on the kind of orders that were being made with a view to understand the results that were being obtained by the parties coming to court.  In addition to the cases where Judges were making a decision statistics have also been recorded of matters coming to court but in which the parties reached their own agreement without the necessity of a decision from a Judge.

The collection of and analysis of that data has been a complex one.  Parenting orders are not particularly straight forward by their nature and can often involve some complexities which complicate the recording process.  Thus it has taken some time for the court to be in a position to be satisfied that the reports are accurate and meaningful. That point has now been reached and an analysis of the 2007-2008 shared parental responsibility statistics are now available. 

 

Please Note:

    • The analysis was based on 1448 finalised litigated cases and 2719 early agreement (consent) cases.
    • The data has only been collected in Family Court matters. These figures do not relate to orders made by the Federal Magistrates Court.

2007-2008 Shared Parental Responsibility Statistics in cases conducted in the Family Court ofAustralia.

Shared Parental Responsibility – Time Spent with parents

 

Cases where fathers received a majority of time

    • In 17% of litigated cases, the Family Court made orders that the children spend more than 50% of time with their father.
    • Where parents came to an early agreement, it was agreed in 8% of cases that children spend more than 50% of time with their father.

Cases where mothers received a majority of time

    • In 60% of litigated cases, the Family Court made orders that the children spend more than 50% of time with their mother.
    • Where parents came to an early agreement, it was agreed in 68% of cases that the child spend more than 50% of time with their mother. 

Cases where 50/50 time was awarded[1]

    •  In 15% of litigated cases, the Family Court made orders for 50/50 care between parents.
    • Where parents came to an early agreement, the parents agreed on a 50/50 care arrangement in 19% of cases.

Cases where the father received between 30%and 45% of time

    • In 14% of litigated cases, the Family Court made orders that the children spend between 30% to 45% of time with their father.
    • Where parents came to an early agreement, it was agreed in 11% of cases that the children spend between 30% to 45% of time with their father.
    • In 3% of litigated cases, the Family Court made orders that the children spend between 30% to 45% of time with the mother.
    • Where parents came to an early agreement, it was agreed in 1% of cases that the children spend between 30% to 45% of time with their mother.


Cases where the father received less than 30%of time

       

In a third of litigated cases, the Family Court ordered that children spend 30% or less time with their father.  Of the 100% of this category, the main reasons for the order included:

 

Reason
Percentage of cases
Abuse and family violence 29%
Entrenched conflict 15%
Distance/transport/financial barriers 6%
Relocation 5%
Substance Abuse 4%


 

Cases where the mother receives less than 30% of time

In 9% of litigated cases, the Family Court ordered that children spend 30% or less time with their mother.  The main reasons for the order include:

 

Reason
Percentage of cases
Mental health issues 31%
Distance/ transport/financial barriers 16%
Abuse and/or family violence 16%
Substance abuse 7%
Relocation 7%

 

Cases where the father spent no time with the children

    • In 6% of litigated cases, the father was ordered to spend no time with the children.
    • Where the parents came to an early agreement, it was agreed in less than 1% of cases that the father have no contact with the children.

The main reasons for the order include:

 

Reason
Percentage of cases
Abuse and family violence 38%
Entrenched conflict 10%
Distance/transport/financial barriers 0%
Relocation 2%
Mental health issues 2%
Other 42%

 

Cases where the Mother Spent No Time with the Children

    • In 1% of litigated cases, the mother was ordered to have no contact with the children. 

The main reasons for the order include:

 

Reason
Percentage of cases
Abuse and family violence 15%
Entrenched conflict 0%
Distance/transport/financial barriers 8%
Relocation 8%
Mental health issues 31%
Other 31%


Grandparents

    • In 8% of litigated cases the Family Court ordered that the child spend time with grandparents. 
    • In 2% of cases where there was an early agreement it was agreed that the child spend time with the grandparent.
    • In 2% of litigated cases the Family Court ordered that the child spend time with an ‘other’ person.
    • In 1% of cases where there was an early agreement it was agreed that the child spend time with an ‘other’ person.

Additional Information

    • In those cases where parents have agreed about arrangements for children to spend time with their father, 15% did not set a rigid arrangement for the father to spend time with the children.
    • In those cases that are litigated, 11% did not set a rigid arrangement for the children to spend time with their father.




[1] For data collection purposes 50/50 time was defined as between 45 % and 55% of the time spent with a child or children.