If the Court decides it is either not reasonably practicable or not in the best interests of the child to spend equal time with each parent, then the Court must consider whether the child living with one parent and spending substantial and significant time with the other parent is in the child’s best interests and is reasonably practicable.
Substantial and significant time means weekday and weekend time and holiday and non-holiday time which allows the parent with whom the child does not live with to be involved in the child’s daily routine and special events.
The living arrangements for child depends upon a number of factors and in some cases the reasons for equal time being not in the best interests of the child is readily apparent and is a result of the behaviours or the risks associated (for the child) with the parent themselves. In other cases, although both parents may be ready, willing and able to parent the child and do not present any risk to the child there can be other factors that mean equal time is not in the best interests of the child. This can include parents that live apart or commonly for younger children or children with special needs.
The orders made by the Court or agreements made by parents need to be child focused and sometimes a “think outside the box approach” is needed by not concentrating on having an equal number of nights but by focusing on reaching agreement that is child focused and provides for the child to have quality time with both parents.
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