What about the kids? Is 50/50 time with each parent the norm these days?

What about the kids? Is 50/50 time with each parent the norm these days?

The changes effected to our Family Law system back in 2006 have had a huge impact on the approach to child care arrangements in separated families, but have also been largely misunderstood.

In a nut shell, this is the way it is worked out:

  1. The overriding principle that the Court, and lawyers advising clients, must have regard to is that the parenting arrangement MUST be in the best interests of the child.  The Court must consider certain specific matters to decide this, such as, the relationship of the child with each parent and other relatives, the likely effect on the child of any change in the child’s circumstances or separation from parents or other important persons, such as grandparents, the views of the child and the need to protect the child from any domestic violence.

  2. The law applies, in most cases, a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for the parents to have, what is termed “equal shared parental responsibility”.  This term refers to the long term decisions in relation to the child, such as, where the child will live, where the child will go to school, the child’s religious upbringing and important medical decisions. 

  3. If it is decided that the parents do have equal shared parental responsibility, then the Court must go on to consider whether it is in the best interests of the child to spend equal time with each parent and whether that would be reasonably practicable.  In many cases of course, it is not practical or appropriate under all of the circumstances for a 50% shared time arrangement to be put in place. This may be because the parents live too far apart or one parent works long hours or the child is very young and is principally attached to one parent.

  4. If that is the case, then we must go on to consider how best to divide the time between the parents and the law now encourages that the child should spend “substantial and significant time” with a parent, (as worded in the Family Law Act). This is defined as including weekend time, weekday time, holiday time, special occasions and involvement in the child’s daily routine.

Although statistically there has been an increase in 50/50 shared time arrangements, it is not applied as a matter of course.  It is important to understand that each family situation is different and must be determined on its own individual facts.

Recent Studies, in particular in relation to young children and the importance of a principal Attachment Figure are relevant.

Do you have questions relating to your shared parenting arrangement please contact? Contact Solari and Stock Miranda on 8525 2700 or click here to request an appointment with one our experienced Family Law Team.

Article written by Riccarda Stock
Photo by Andrew Coop on Unsplash

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