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Children – Travelling and Change Over Obligations

It is important to consider the impact that parenting Orders will have on children, in circumstances where parties live some distance apart.

For example, it is sometimes the case that one parent lives in Canberra and the other lives on the NSW South Coast. Travel will therefore be necessary. In order for the children to spend time with each parent in their home, the children will travel up to 4 hours each return trip.

Things to consider include – where changeover is to take place? Should one parent travel to collect the children at the beginning of their time and the other parent collect the children at the end of their time? Should the parties meet half way? Can the parties afford to regularly travel? If not, who should pay for the travel expenses? Is public transport an option? Can the children travel unaccompanied? What are the logistics of the travel ie are there buses travelling on Friday and Sunday afternoons between the parties locations?

Further considerations include the impact of the travel on the children. A parties’ proposal may see them retuning home late on Sunday afternoons, in which case they may be tired for school the next day which may affect their whole week. Do one of the parents work on the weekends and as such, they may not be able to facilitate changeovers.

These issues were considered in the matter of Spurling & Spurling [2015] FamCAFC 113. The parties lived 2 hours apart. The trial Judge considering the matter made Orders whereby the children arrived home late on Sundays after spending time with their father.

The Mother appealed the decision and the Full Court upheld her appeal finding that the Judge’s apparent failure to consider the children’s return time was an appealable error.

It was also recognized by the Full Court that in that case the mother was the primary carer and as such, her work had to be arranged around the children’s needs. The mother arranged to work on weekends when the children were in the father’s care. The matter has been remitted for hearing on the question of the appropriate changeover time.

When seeking Orders, consider the practical implications. You may wish to seek advice first as to issues to consider and options that are available.

Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov ©

Written by Peter Magee on April 30, 2017

Peter is a partner of Armstrong Legal and head of our Family Law Division. He has over 15 years’ experience. His past experience dealing with large cases benefits his family law clients by providing insight into complex and tactical issues. As a result, Peter can often achieve settlements outside Court that may otherwise have not been achievable. View Peter’s profile

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