Mobbs and Marr

Equal time – is it a myth?

Equal time – is it a myth?

In earlier days it was referred to as “custody” and “access”. Those terms have been replaced by “lives with” and “spends time with” and it is not uncommon for children to spend equal time with both parents. To be clear it does not mean that there is an automatic entitlement to an equal time arrangement and when the Court is considering whether it is reasonably practicable for the children to spend equal time with each parent, it will look at, amongst other issues:-

  • How far apart the parents live from each other;
  • The parents’ current and future capacity to implement an equal time arrangement; and
  • The impact an equal time arrangement would have on the children.

As always, the Court must consider the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration.  Some examples where equal time might not be considered in the best interests of the child:

  • Parents live a considerable distance apart and travel either impractical or will be a burden on the children.
  • Young children where there is ordinarily a primary attachment to one parent.
  • Work commitments render one parent less able to attend to the day to day needs of the child – e.g. school and homework needs, transportation of child, caring for the child before and after school
  • There is a risk to the child posed by one of the parents
  • Equal time is not a myth and is not infrequent for school aged children where they spend time with each parent on a week about basis.

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