Do children have to spend equal time with each parent?

If it would be in the interests of the child and reasonably practicable for the child to spend equal time with each parent then the Court may order equal shared parental responsibility. If the Court does not make an order for equal shared parental responsibility then it does not have to consider ordering that the child spend equal time with each parent.


How does a court make a decision about children?

The Court considers a wide range of discretionary factors in making decisions about children. The priority of the Court is always to ensure that the best interests of the children are met.

Additional considerations for the Court are:

  • any views expressed by the child;
  • various aspects of the child’s relationship with each parent;
  • the likely effect of any change in the child’s circumstances; and
  • any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family.

The extent to which each parent has fulfilled responsibilities in the past is also important.

The Court may also order independent evidence from a Psychologist or Counsellor to assist them in determining which care arrangements will promote the best interests of the children.


What is a parenting order and what does the Court consider when it makes a parenting order?

The main consideration of the Court is whether the arrangements implemented by the parenting order are in the best interests of the child.

The court presumes the best interests of the children are served by the parents having ‘equal shared parental responsibility’, but it will look at what is best for the children in each case.

Where there is family violence or child abuse involving one of the parents or a person who lives with a parent, this presumption does not apply.


What is the effect of the parenting plan?

A parenting plan made with the other parent is not enforceable, if you go on to court the court will have to consider the most recent Parenting Plan.

The court will also consider whether both parents have met with their obligations including the terms of a Parenting Plan.

The parenting plan can be made enforceable by asking the Court to make Consent Orders.


What are the objectives of the law relating to children?

The Family Law Act aims to ensure that the best interests of children are met by:

  • ensuring children have the benefit of both their parents having meaningful involvement in their lives;
  • protecting children from physical or psychological harm;
  • ensuring that children receive adequate and proper parenting; and
  • ensuring that parents meet their responsibilities towards their children.