Isn’t 50/50 care my right under child custody laws?
With the emphasis on both parents being more involved in the care of children after separation many people assume that parenting law now guarantees a shared care or 50/50 split of the child’s time with each parent.
While the overriding principle since the Family Law Act commenced in 1975 is that all parenting arrangements should be made ‘in the best interests of the child’ a series of changes to family law since 1996 has seen a steady move from the notion of ‘parents child custody rights’ to an approach which prioritises the rights of children.
Section 60CC of the Act focuses on the importance of children being safe from harm and having a ‘meaningful relationship with each parent’. Family law also encourages parents to work together (where it is safe to do so) and negotiate care arrangements which best suit their children and their individual circumstances. The old notion of child custody ‘rights’ gives way to a more responsive outcome.
It can be hard to remain child focused when feeling runs high. Happily there are a host of community and government agencies available to assist and educate parents about strategies to help their children through what can be a very stressful period. Your local Family Relationship Centre http://www.familyrelationships.gov.au or http://www.resourcingparents.nsw.gov.au are good starting points. Used in tandem with expert legal advice parents can achieve sustainable, flexible agreements.
Matthews Folbigg family law team has a number of lawyers with a great deal of experience in child custody matters.