• McKenzie Friend Australia

I know you want ‘Sole Parental Responsibility’ as it’s easier especially if your ex is a narcissist

I often have parents calling me after they have made applications to the court for sole parental responsibility, some with the help of lawyers and some not. Most often it’s because they believe they have been ‘hard done by’ by their co-parent and are emotionally hurt or there has been allegations thrown into court of domestic violence with no police reports, no DVO’s, third party witnesses or other critical evidence other than ‘one word against the other’. A lot of the time they have not been informed that sole parental responsibility is really hard to get, from my personal experiences, in parenting matters before the court.

In family law there is a presumption that parents should equally share in the major decisions concerning the upbringing of their children called “shared parental responsibility”. Parental conflict, unless extreme and proven to be long term, is not a basis for shutting a parent out of joint decision making for their children.

But there are reasons for sole parental responsibility, that is where the court orders that only one parent make major decisions regarding the upbringing of a child. The court will always try to do what is in the best interests of the children after considering and testing all the evidence before them.

Here is a check list I often go through with people who contact me, of reasons why Judges might consider an order a sole parental responsibility:

  • If one of the parents has a serious mental illness or long-term illicit substance abuse problem.

  • If one of the parents is neglectful, totally irresponsible, abusive, or simply has no interest in the child/ren.

  • If one of the parents is a sexual predator, child molester, or otherwise a pervert.

  • If one of the parents is totally unfit to be a parent.

  • If one of the parents is incapacitated or incarcerated.

So ask yourself ...... does your family circumstances factually, with documented evidence meet any of these?

Parents are expected to administer medicine properly, pick up and drop off children at school timely, monitor children so they stay out of harm’s way, feed and clothe them properly, care about them, pay attention to them, and participate in their lives. If a parent will not or cannot perform as a parent should, the other parent should consider obtaining legal advice on how to apply for sole parental responsibility.

However, taking this road does not mean the other parent won’t get to see their children or that a court will entertain a change from shared parental responsibility. When you are at the mercy of the court system, there are no guarantees you will receive exactly what you are after.

The odds of winning sole parental responsibility are like placing all your money on a Melbourne Cup horse paying out at 100 to 1. So before uploading your Final Orders, consider how you would feel if your ex was trying to remove your parental decision making ability for your little cherubs for the rest of their childhood. Once it's out there it is really hard to take back the statement with your co-parent as they probably will hang onto it forever. And if you then change your mind and replace the order with shared parental responsibility throughout the court process you had better be able to explain yourself when put under cross examination at a final hearing because it is a huge backflip.

If you need help on how to live, co-parenting with a Narcissistic Ex, and what to expect, contact McKenzie Friend.

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