The Family Law Act contains a presumption that it is in the best interest of children to have an ongoing relationship with both parents, unless here are issues of family violence.
In some situations, it may be appropriate that a child spend equal time
with both parents. If the Court does not think that it appropriate for a child spend equal time with both parents, the Court must consider making an order for the child to live with one parent and spend ‘substantial and significant’ time with the other parent.
Time spent with a parent is only considered ‘substantial and significant’ if the time:
- Includes days that fall on weekends or holidays;
- Includes days that do not fall on weekends or holidays;
- Allows the parent to be involved in the child’s daily routine;
- Allows the parent to be involved in occasions and events which are significant to the child; and
- Allows the child to be involved in occasions which are significant to the parent.
The Court will not make an order for equal time or substantial and significant time unless it is reasonably practicable to do so.
Whether a care arrangement for a child is ‘reasonably practicable’ will depend on:
- How far the parents live from each other;
- Whether the parents are able to put in place an arrangement which would facilitate the child living with one parent and spending substantial and significant time with the other parent;
- Whether the parents have good communication with each other, such that they could talk about issues which might come up with regards to their child spending large portions of time in two households;
- Whether the child could emotionally and psychologically cope with spending large portions of time in two households; and
- Any other issues the Court considers relevant.