Substantial and significant time
When the Court does not believe it is in a child’s best interest for a child to spend equal time with both parents, the Court must consider making an order for the child to live with one parent and spend ‘substantial and significant’ time with the other parent.
With regard to ‘substantial and significant’ time, subsections 2, 3 and 4 of the Act States
- a parenting order provides (or is to provide) that a child’s parents are to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child; and
- the court does not make an order (or include a provision in the order) for the child to spend equal time with each of the parents;the court must:
- consider whether the child spending substantial and significant time with each of the parents would be in the best interests of the child; and
- consider whether the child spending substantial and significant time with each of the parents is reasonably practicable; and
- if it is, consider making an order to provide (or including a provision in the order) for the child to spend substantial and significant time with each of the parents.
3. For the purposes of subsection 2, a child will be taken to spend substantial and significant time
with a parent only if:
- the time the child spends with the parent includes both:
(i) days that fall on weekends and holidays; and
(ii) days that do not fall on weekends or holidays; and
- the time the child spends with the parent allows the parent to be involved in:
(i) the child’s daily routine; and
(ii) occasions and events that are of particular significance to the child; and
- the time the child spends with the parent allows the child to be involved in occasions and events that are of special significance to the parent.
4. Subsection 3 does not limit the other matters to which a court can have regard in determining
whether the time a child spends with a parent would be substantial and significant.
Where parents don’t have strict “equal time” in most cases the child will “live with” one parent and spend “substantial and significant time” with the other. For the benefit of the child and the parent-child relationship this should include days/nights that provide for the parent being involved in all aspects of the child’s life – school, weekends, holidays and special occasions. There are also other aspects such as cultural or religious events and times that are significant to the child’s background, culture and beliefs.
Our final article will discuss what the Court considers to be “reasonably practicable” when determining whether a child is to spend equal time, or substantial and significant time, with each of the child’s parents.