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Sole Parental Responsibility
03 May 2024

Conducting Sole Parental Responsibilities in Mackay, Australia: A Professional’s Guide

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 03 May 2024
Child Support

As a family lawyer based in Mackay, Australia, we frequently handle cases involving sole parental responsibility. Recognising sole parenthood’s definition and legal implications is critical, especially within Australian law.

This article aims to answer your inquiry, “What does sole parental responsibility mean?” by discussing the topic’s definition and other pertinent elements.

Sole Parent Meaning According to the Australian Legislation

Divorce or separation affected nearly half of Australia’s 959,000 sole-parent families in 2021. The following means approximately 460,000 families dealing with single parenthood following divorce, with women accounting for the majority (83%).

Australian law, mainly the Family Law Act 1975, usually represents a sole parent as a person with sole parental responsibility.’ This legal term concerns all the duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority permitted to parents by law about their children. By this Act, parental responsibility contains all aspects of a child’s welfare and growth, like decisions about their care, education, health, and religion. After a separation or divorce, one parent may receive sole parental responsibility in certain instances.

What is Parental Responsibility Australia

All the obligations, authorities, duties and power which, via decree, the parents possess in relationship with their children” implies parental responsibility as mentioned in Section 61B of the Family Law Act of 1975.

 Parents have lawful responsibilities and authorities, which concern:

  • Determining a child’s upbringing, religion, and education.
  • Executing reasonable disciplinary steps regarding a child.
  • Granting consent for a child to be adopted.
  • Requesting a passport or visa for a child.
  • Introducing legal proceedings on behalf of a child.

It is critical to recognise that the individual granted parental responsibility by a parenting order may not be the same person with whom the child lives. The child’s living arrangements and visitation schedules are unrelated to deciding parental responsibility.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.


The Family Law Act 1975, Division 2, specifies what constitutes parental responsibility.

The Family Law Amendment Act updated the Family Law Act, specifically its provisions on parenting orders, in 2023. These changes will be effective beginning May 6, 2024.

Before the amendments, the law considered that parents shared equal responsibility for their children. However, current modifications have removed this opinion. Courts can now issue orders for equal shared or sole parental responsibility, relying on the children’s best interests.

Sole Parental Responsibility

A single parent can legally make all significant decisions regarding their child’s future without contacting the other parent. This is called sole parental responsibility. However, it does not necessarily mean that the child lives with that parent alone. 

When Parenting Becomes Sole Parental Responsibility

Courts typically hesitate to grant sole parental responsibility, but they may consider it in situations such as:

  • Domestic Violence or Abuse: when there is a substantial risk to the child’s or the other parent’s safety from one parent.
  • Lack of Cooperation: If parents have a history of extreme conflict and cannot communicate or make joint decisions for the child.
  • Unable to Find the Other Parent: If one parent’s whereabouts are unknown, this can prevent their involvement in decision-making.
  • Best Interests of the Child: When sole parental responsibility is deemed to be in the absolute best interests of the child, even if the above situations don’t strictly apply. This could include cases where one parent is consistently absent or shows little interest in participating in the child’s life.

Grounds to Terminate Parental Rights Australia

A court can determine that ending one or both of a parent’s rights as parents is most helpful to the child in particular circumstances. The rights of the father, the mother, or both may be terminated.

If one parent ignores the law or a father fails to confirm his paternity, these rights may be cancelled. However, a parent or parents may, in certain circumstances, decide to leave these parental rights willingly.

In Australia, state law controls the termination of a mother’s or father’s rights regarding child custody.

The following are the primary causes why parental rights end involuntarily:

  • Extreme abuse or ignore
  • Sexual abuse
  • assault or disregard for other kids living in the home
  • Abandonment
  • persistent mental illness or the parent(s’) deficiencies
  • Parent(s)’ long-term drug or alcohol addiction
  • Inability to provide for or keep in touch with the child

Found guilty of particular offences can also result in a parent missing parental rights.

Suppose you suspect the other parental rights ought to be dismissed. In that case, you must apply for a sole parental responsibility law and order.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

The Way How to Apply for Sole Parental Responsibility in Australia

Court orders operate to formalise parental arrangements. You may jointly apply for an order of consent if the agreement is mutual. However, a parenting order typically becomes necessary when one parent is required to give up the power to make decisions about their children. Parents rarely decide to give away that role by choice.

 When applying for parenting orders, the parent aiming for sole responsibility should outline the reasons for the request in their affidavit. Including as much evidence as possible to support the request is crucial. Evidence may include:

– Police reports related to domestic violence incidents.

– Medical reports documenting harm experienced by the child.

– Witness statements concerning the behaviour of the parents.

– Evidence indicating a breakdown in communication between the parents.

– Existing court orders.

– Any other evidence demonstrating that shared parenting is not in the child’s best interests.

Suppose you can persuade the court that sole parental responsibility is necessary for the child’s welfare. The court will likely grant a parenting order to establish that arrangement in that case.

How to Get Sole Parental Responsibility

Only a court order will allow you sole parental responsibility. An agreement or a judicial officer may make this decision. You will likely have to go to court to get your case opted because it is rarely seen that parents consent to one another having sole parental responsibility.

The court will evaluate the evidence and submit applications for the child’s best wishes to decide whether to grant sole parental responsibility.

Resources and Support for Sole Parents in Mackay, Australia

In Mackay, Australia, you aren’t just a single parent. Many services and resources can assist you in your parenting journey. To help single parents, the Mackay Regional Council offers various initiatives and projects, including financial guidance, classes for parents, and community service access.

Through efforts like the Parenting Payment and Family Tax Benefit, the Australian government provides assistance with money for qualified single parents. With these initiatives, you can confirm that you have the resources required to meet your child’s needs and reduce a portion of the financial load of being a sole parent.

Furthermore, Mackay, Australia, offers a variety of online forums and support groups designed for single parents. These communities provide a secure and encouraging environment for single parents to meet, exchange stories, and get guidance from others going through comparable difficulties. 


Seeking a parenting order is difficult, especially when requesting sole parental responsibility, which is seldom granted. Seeking legal advice regarding your options and the most suitable course of action is advisable. Family Lawyers Mackay possesses extensive experience in handling parenting disputes. Contact our team today so that we can help you achieve the best outcome for you and your family.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.


How can sole parents balance work and family life?

Balancing work and family life as a sole parent requires effective time management, support from employers, and utilising available resources for childcare and support.

What support systems are available for sole parents?

Several support networks, such as government assistance programmes, support groups, and community organisations, are available to single parents.

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