Equal time is spent with the child if the parents are capable of providing equal care. When it is not possible to have equal time the court will order for substantial and significant time to be spent with the child.
The mandate of the Family Law Act 1975 is that it is presumed to be in the child’s best interests that his parents have equal shared parental responsibility. This means that if it is for the good of the child, fathers and mothers must equally share the rights and responsibilities of raising their child.
The best interest of a child consists of him having a positive and meaningful relationship with both his parents. However, this pressing need for parental presence and guidance must be balanced with the child’s safety. Thus, there are two main considerations when determining a child’s best interests:
This simply means that parents will have equal rights to their child and will share the responsibilities of parenting. Both parents have the right and responsibility to decide about major long terms issues concerning their child like:
In the absence of domestic violence or abuse that endangers the child the court will order equal shared parenting to the parents. Thus, parents are allowed to have either equal time with the child or substantial and significant time.
Equal time is when the parents are able to equally have custody over the child. Both parents are the primary carers since they get to spend equal nights with the child and they provide equal care. There are cases however when it is not feasible for parents to spend equal time that is why the court will order for substantial and significant time.
With substantial and significant time a parent is able to spend time with a parent during weekends, holidays, vacations, and special occasions. The parent must also be present during the important events in the child’s life like school plays, graduations or birthday parties.
Time and distance constraints usually prevent a parent from spending time with his child. The court understands and recognizes the difficulties so that rather than forcing equal time it will order for substantial and significant time. The court will also be considering the ability of the parents to communicate with each other and implement an arrangement for the child.