special info Jensen Family Law – Mesa
The reforms introduced by the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act do not actually indicate that both parents get equal time with their children. What it means is that the court now finds the best interests of the child to include both parents providing substantive mutual involvement in significant decisions that impact the child in the majority of cases. Since the court’s primary concern is to support the child’s best interests, the court must give effect to this unless doing so would expose the child to family abuse or put the child in danger.
What impact does the court’s requirement that the child spend equal time or substantial and meaningful time with each parent have?
The act now requires the court to weigh the following factors when making a parenting order that includes both parents sharing parental responsibility:
- If it will be in the child’s best interests (the most important factor); and
- its fair practicability; and
- If the answers to the first two questions are yes, consider making an order requiring the child to spend equal time with each parent.
If the court agrees not to mandate equal time, it must determine whether the child should be allowed to spend significant and meaningful time with both parents. This basically means that the child must spend more time with the parent with whom he or she does not live than just weekends and holidays.
What effect would the new provisions have on parents’ attitudes toward parenting and each other?
The court should consider the characteristics of the parents when deciding what is in the best interests of the child when determining the’reasonable practicality’ of the child spending equal or important and substantial time with both parents.