What is substantial and significant time in parenting matters?
If you have recently separated from your partner or you are considering separation, putting an agreement in place in relation to parenting is an important first step. The Family or Federal Circuit Court will not automatically make an order for 50/50 time. This is because under the Family Law Act 1975, the Court must consider an extensive range of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child.
If a parenting order provides that the parents of the child have equal shared parental responsibility, the Court may or may not consider equal time to be in the child’s best interests. The Court is then required to consider whether the child spending ‘substantial and significant time’ with each parent is in the child’s best interests.
The ‘best interests of the child’ are determined by the Court examining ‘the section 60CC factors’. This is the section in the Family Law Act that outlines the range of factors that the Court needs to consider in order to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The determination of these factors can be different depending on each individual child. The factors that the Court considers include; the age and needs of the child, the capacity of the parents to meet the child’s needs, the nature of the relationship between the child and each parent, the child’s views, domestic violence orders in place, risk factors and so on.
What is substantial and significant time?
Section 65DAA(3) provides a definition of what substantial and significant time may look like. This includes:
- That the child spends time with the parent on both weekends and holidays;
- That the child spend time with the parent that are not weekends or holidays;
- That the child spends time involved in the child’s daily routine;
- That the parent spends time involved in special events and special occasions in the child’s life;
- That the child spend time with the parent on special events and special occasions in the parent’s life.
There are various other factors that are also considered by the Court in determining what time should be spent with each parent, including what is reasonably practicable.
Ultimately, the court must also consider the paramount factor in determining parenting matters which is whether the order ‘is in the best interests of the child’.
Should you wish to discuss parenting arrangements or if you wish to discuss spending more significant and substantial time with your child/children, please phone Katie Jolliffe at our Hamilton office: (02) 49 691 522.
Katie Jolliffe – Solicitor
Katie primarily practices in family law and has expertise in parenting and property matters and divorce.
Katie regularly appears in the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of
Australia at Newcastle.
Areas of law: family law, criminal law, traffic, license matters, civil law and debt recovery.