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Is an Equal Time Parenting Arrangement Suitable for Every Child and Every Parent?

The short answer is no.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides for the child’s best interests to be the paramount consideration when making parenting Orders. The Act then goes on to provide a list of considerations that the Court must consider when making Orders in the best interests of children, that is section 60CC.

Section 60CC provides for two primary considerations; the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, and also the need to protect the child from harm. The protection of the child from a risk of harm is to have greater weight than the first primary consideration.

The Court is then required to consider the other 14 additional considerations when making parenting orders in the best interests of children.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, if the Court is going to Order that parents are to share parental responsibility, that is the decision making responsibility of children given to parents, the Court is then directed to consider the following:

  • Section 65DAA(1) whether the child spending equal time with each parent is in the child’s best interests and reasonably practicable, then the Court should consider making that Order for equal time.
  • Section 65DAA(2) whether the child spending substantial and significant time with each parent is in the child’s best interests and reasonably practicable, then the Court should consider making Orders for substantial and significant time with each parent.

There are many considerations that will determine whether or not an Order for equal time with each parent is in the child’s best interests and reasonably practicable. These may include, age of the child, proximity between households, communication between parents, ability of parent’s to facilitate an equal time arrangement, for example, delivering and collecting from school, and level of communication between parents that will facilitate the arrangement.

An equal time arrangement may work for one separated family with a young child, but may not work for another separated family with an older child. The bottom line is that the arrangements must be in the child’s best interests and an equal time arrangement may not be suitable to some family dynamics or children’s needs.

A child spending equal time with each parent can mean of variety of Orders. It can be spending time equally with each parent by spending one week with one parent and another week with another parent, also known as a week about arrangement. Or two nights with one parent, two nights with the other parent, and then three nights with the first parent again, and rotate the second week. Or an arrangement of alternating three and four night blocks.

What type of arrangement your child has between you and the other parent will ultimately depend on the specific circumstances of your family and your child.

There is no magical age where an equal time arrangement is required to be Ordered.

In the case of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna in the USA, their 8 month old daughter Dream is reportedly in an equal time arrangement where the parents have agreed that Dream is to spend her time equally between both parents. In the circumstances of an active AVO between the parties, this is an outcome that would have been unlikely to have been Ordered by a Judge, however it is understood by TMZ and E! reporters that the parties have a number of nurses and nannies who deliver Dream between the parties to facilitate the arrangement and reduce their physical contact, with the focus on Dream having a relationship with both parents, despite their separation.

If you have queries about your child being in an equal time arrangement, please contact one of our specialised family lawyers at Armstrong Legal.

Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov ©

Written by Natasha Heathcote on October 23, 2017

Natasha has a strong passion for family law, and believes that the law can be used to achieve positive resolutions for her clients. When working with clients, Natasha shows compassion and first seeks to understand what is important to her clients, then looks for legal solutions that will best suit them. View Natasha's profile

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