Parenting arrangements for spending time with children

Parenting orders and working through spending time with children

After separation, organising a plan for when the children spend time with each parent can seem like a daunting process. In this blog we will look at the concepts of equal time, substantial and significant time and what the court considers when determining parenting orders.

Each family law matter is different and what works for one family may not work for another. Parenting arrangements need to be personalised to work for your family specifically or else they become too arduous and difficult to implement.

The age of the child also needs to be taken into consideration to ensure that the orders the parents want are age-appropriate and are in the child's best interests.

What is equal time?

Section 65DAA Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) states that if a parenting order provides that a child's parents are to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child, the court must consider whether the child spending equal time with the parents would:

  1. be in the best interests of the child; and
  2. be reasonably practicable for this to occur.

If both of these criteria are satisfied, then an equal time parenting order may be made.

These orders should be tailored to each family's specific needs and may look something like:

  • a 'week about' arrangement during the school term; and
  • both parties each spending time with the child half of each school holidays.

Special occasions and holidays could be shared alternately; such as Christmas and birthdays.

If the above criteria for equal time are not met, then the court must consider if orders for substantial and significant time are in the child's best interests.

What is substantial and significant time?

Substantial and significant time includes a shared mix of weekdays, weekends, and holidays.

This allows the parent whom the child does not primarily live with to be involved in their daily routine and events that are significant to the child and the parent.

Again, these orders should be tailored to each family's specific needs. They may look something like the child living with one parent and spending time with the other parent overnight from after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays and each second weekend during the school term. School holiday time may be equally shared between the parents. Special occasions and holidays can be alternately shared; such as Christmas and Birthdays.

Get help

If you have separated and are working through your parenting arrangements with your former partner, seeking experienced legal advice in relation to your specific and individual needs will ensure the best interest of your children are paramount.

For advice or assistance about parenting arrangements and seeking parenting orders, feel free to get in touch directly with today’s blog writer, family lawyer Bridget Schultz for advice and assistance.

Or you can contact us through reception by phone or email to arrange a consultation.

Phone: 02 9997 2111


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This article is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact E&A Lawyers.

Get in touch with the author:
Bridget Schultz


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