What should you consider when deciding on travelling and change over arrangements?
One of the most important tasks during separation and divorce is to make practical parenting arrangements. This could become complicated when the two parents live far apart. If travel between the two homes is necessary, the impact of the travel on the children must be considered.
Whether you agree on your parenting plan or you approach the court for a parenting order, the practical implications must be considered. When deciding on travelling and change over arrangements you need to consider many factors, including:
- Are the children old enough to travel alone?
- Is public transport an option? Can they travel unaccompanied, and
- Is public transport available at the times when you agreed on?
- Who will pay for the travel arrangements?
- Can you afford to pay for regular travel between the parents?
- Can you travel internationally with your child?
- Do you need the other parent’s consent to take the child out of Australia?
- Whose consent is needed for the child’s passport,
- Who should keep the child’s passport?
- If they cannot travel unaccompanied, where will the changeover take place?
- Do you collect your child at the beginning of their time with you, or will the other parent accompany your child to your home?
- Do you travel with your child for the return journey, or will the other parent collect?
- Do you each travel halfway and change over somewhere in the middle?
- Can you have different arrangements for different children?
If your child’s age, or specific needs require different arrangements for different children, you can include that in your parenting plan.
The impact on your child
Besides the practical implications, you need to consider the impact the travel will have on your child.
- Will he or she return in time to school?
- Will they have enough time to rest after the travel, before their week starts?
- Will they be able to spend sufficient time with the parent they are visiting at the arranged time and so on?
- How detailed should the plan or order be?
There is no simple answer to that question. It depends on your particular circumstances. What is important is that you consider all the practical factors that might be relevant to your situation. It is recommended that parenting plans and orders deal with changeover arrangements. If the relationship between you and the other parent is difficult, it might be a good idea to make arrangements that do not involve you and the other parent actually meeting each other.
What if the order has a negative impact on your child?
If a judge made an order that turns out to have a negative impact on the child, for example, the child returns too late from visiting the other parent; you can approach the court to appeal the decision to a Full Court.
In a 2015 case, Spurling & Spurling, the Court had to consider such an appeal. In that case, the matter could be remitted for reconsideration of the appropriate change over time.
Seek legal assistance
Even the most detailed orders cannot cover every single situation, and people’s circumstances change all the time. A lawyer will provide you with good advice and will ensure that your plan complies with the requirements of the law regarding travelling and change over obligations.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.