Getting equal time with your children

A common question I hear from family law clients is:

I have recently separated from my partner and I wish to have equal time with the children.  How do I get equal care of the children?

It is not an “automatic right” of the parent to get equal care.  rather it is a right of a child to have a meaningful and safe relationship with each parent, if it in fact is in their best interests. This sometimes leads to equal shared care but other times not.

How the courts decide

Generally the Courts will consider following factors when deciding on equal care:

  1. Is there a history of both parties contributing actively towards the parenting? For example if you are a parent that has traditionally taken the children to sports and extracurricular activities, this may assist your argument. If you were the main breadwinner that works long hours and was not there a lot to partake in the children’s regular routine activities, your argument could be complicated.
  2. Do the parties reside close to each other?  This is an important consideration because if you have for example separated from your spouse and have moved to the other side of the city it would be difficult for you to argue that you can see the children half the time as their schooling, social network and the like could be severely interrupted given the distance and logistics with transport and organisation.   Would you be able to take the children to and from school?
  3. The children’s ages/maturity. If the children are very young, the argument for shared care could be problematic. If the children are too old the argument could equally be complicated. Young children require routine and stability whilst older children can have many commitments and need flexibility.
  4. The children’s preference. Generally if they are at a mature age, the children get a say in the parenting arrangements. Note however that the children’s say is only one of the components when deciding what is best for the children, not the sole deciding fact.

There is no “one size fits all”.  Therefore, in order to receive accurate legal advice that is tailored to your specific circumstances- you should always consult a lawyer experienced in conducting family law cases.

 

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