Family Law Policy

  1. What is this policy about?
    1. This policy assists ACT public schools to deal with family law related issues.
  2. Policy Statement
    1. ACT public schools are committed to ensuring that they deal with family law related issues in ways that are consistent with the Family Law Act 1975 as well as the Children and Young People Act 2008 and the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008.
    2. Schools will use these principles to meet obligations to students and parents where there is family breakdown:
      • every child has a right to receive a high quality education
      • decisions should be made to ensure, as far as possible, the continued effective and efficient operation of the school
      • decisions by school staff will be based on what is considered the best interests of the child
      • decisions will be unbiased and without favour to either parent
      • if in doubt about resolving any issues, the educational interests, safety and welfare of the child are paramount
      • where parents cannot agree, it is the role of courts, not schools, to determine a child’s best interests
      • school is not the place to resolve family disputes; nor should school staff resolve disputes
      • effective and efficient school operation and parents’ obligations under the Education Act 2004 to ensure school age children attend school, or receive home education, takes precedence over interests parents may assert under the Family Law Act 1975
      • schools will take into account other legislation such as the Information Privacy Act 2014 (which regulates personal information about individuals) and the Children and Young People Act 2008 (providing for child protection matters) as well as relevant policies.
    3. In the absence of a court order:
      • generally, either parent may enrol a child in a public school
      • each parent is entitled to know where a child is enrolled in school
      • each parent is entitled to know where a child is enrolled in school
    4. A school will assume both parents retain shared and equal parental responsibility for their child if a court order is not provided.
    5. A child must be enrolled under the name on their birth certificate except in specified circumstances. These are set out in detailed Guidelines to assist schools to manage family law related issues.
    6. Schools recognise parents’ responsibility for their children up to the age of 18, but will also understand that as children become older, they are more capable of making decisions about a wider range of matters.
  3. Who does this policy apply to?
    1. This policy applies to all ACT public schools.
  4. Context
    1. Families may experience family breakdown that impacts on school and related arrangements as well as creating stress for parents and children.
    2. Schools need to consider legislative arrangements, and possibly court orders, in responding to these circumstances.
  5. Responsibilities
    1. Principal: The school principal is responsible for implementing this policy in schools.
    2. Parents: also have responsibilities to advise a school of any changes in family circumstances that may impact on relationships between the school and the parents and/or students. A copy of any court order should be provided to the school.
    3. Policy Owner: The Director, Governance and Assurance is responsible for this policy.
  6. Monitoring and Review
    1. The Policy Owner monitors the policy. This includes an annual scan of operation and review.
  7. Contact
    1. For support, schools should contact the Governance and Assurance Branch by email det.legal.liaison@act.gov.au..
  8. Complaints
    1. Any concerns about the application of this policy or the policy itself, should be raised with:
  9. References
    1. Definitions
      • Child: For the purposes of the Family Law Act 1975, a child means a person less than 18 years of age.
      • A parent: is a person having parental responsibility for the child under the Children and Young People Act 2008 including a carer appointed under that Act.
      • Parental responsibility: in relation to a child, means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to children. Parental responsibility for child protection matters may be granted to the Director-General of the Community Services Directorate or other persons.
    2. Legislation
    3. Implementation Documents
      • Family Law Guidelines: Dealing with Family law Related Issues in Schools - Guidelines for School Staff
    4. Related Policies and Information
      • Access to Student Records Policy
      • Attendance at ACT Public Schools Procedures
      • Enrolment in ACT Public Schools Procedures
      • Working with Children and Young People Volunteers and Visitors (Interim) Policy

Family Law Policy: FL201410 is the unique identifier of this document. It is the responsibility of the user to verify that this is the current and complete version of the document, available on the Directorate’s website at http://www.education.act.gov.au/publications_and_policies/school_and_corporate_policies/A-Z.

Policy Identifier: FL201410

Published: January 2016

Related Policies and Information:

  • Access to Student Records Policy
  • Attendance at ACT Public Schools Procedures
  • Enrolment in ACT Public Schools Procedures
  • Working with Children and Young People Volunteers and Visitors (Interim) Policy