13 Mar But it’s my right to see my child!
Well, no it’s not actually. As a parent in the family law realm you don’t really have rights, per se. There is nowhere in the legislation where a parent’s right to spend time with their child is discussed.
Conversely, it is the children’s rights that are paramount.
The only concern the Court have in considering what Orders to make in a parenting matter are the child’s best interests.
Whilst many secondary considerations are to be traversed by the presiding Judge, there are two (2) primary considerations, namely:-
- The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
- The need to keep the child safe from harm.
Nowhere in the primary (s60CC(2)) or additional (s60CC(3)) considerations are parents’ rights discussed.
Often, and unfortunately, some family law litigants do not have a true appreciation of either what is in their children’s best interests or how the Court will determine their matter. Occasionally, as a result, a lawyer is presented with a potential outcome which is most likely in the child’s best interests, however the parent will not accept the outcome as they consider some alternate scenario to be their “right”. Our child custody lawyer in Gold Coast can assist you in such a situation.
As an example, with the shared parenting regime in place, as it has been since 2007, some parents are adamant that they are entitled to share equally in their child’s care, as and by way of a week-about or other 50/50 parenting arrangement.
In most cases this is in the child’s best interests as long as they are of an age capable of being away from each of their parents for a week at a time (generally speaking this is recommended by social workers and child psychologists from age 5), however in some less prevalent cases, the recommendations as to the child’s best interests is that the shared care arrangement be less than 50/50 or week-about.
Shared care as a concept is where the parents have something close to equal care of their children and where they both experience caring for the children during the week and on weekends. Therefore, a shared care arrangement could involve a scenario where the children spend 6 nights with one parent and 8 nights with the other each fortnight.
Usually in such an arrangement, the parents would still share equally all school holiday periods. For children at public schools that involves up to 10 weeks a year, for those at private schools up to 14 weeks a year, being excluded from the calendar.
Accordingly, when faced with the decision on whether to settle a case and save a significant sum on legal fees and the time and stress of proceeding to a contested hearing, where the difference between what they consider is their “right” vs what is available for acceptance is 1 night a fortnight during school terms, it is sometimes helpful to step this out for the parent in receipt of the proposal (i.e. the one who is being asked to accept something less than equal time with their child).
If the children attend public school and 10 weeks are taken from the calendar year, then the total amount of nights the parent receives annually less than a 50/50 arrangement is 21 or at private school the figure is 19. When Mother’s and Father’s Days, children’s and parents’ birthdays are all taken into account, then this figure could be even lower.
Where possible and this is where the benefit of hindsight is wonderful, a parent should step back and consider whether it is in their child’s best interests for their parents to continue the dispute in Court for a further 12-18months (or longer), spend the better part of their child’s University degree, first home deposit or first car in legal fees (each), or whether they can live with the settlement proposal, move on and focus on co-parenting their children.
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