Shift workers and equal time arrangements for children – what you can do to make it work
Section 65DAA of the Family Law Act requires people to “consider” whether an equal or substantial and significant time arrangement is appropriate. Consider does not mean that it happens automatically and in all the circumstances. You need to show the court the arrangement will work or is feasible and it is in the children’s best interests.
This article focuses on some of the things you can do to improve your chances of being able to show the arrangement is feasible. You are more likely to be successful where you:
- Live close to the other parent and ideally close to your child’s school. Your children would prefer being walking or riding distance rather than being a long car trip between homes.
- Have the capacity to make the arrangement work – ideally you should have consistent rostered days off for the children to spend time with you. Being reliable is important instead of changing the arrangement all the time because you have been called out to work. Rosters that are easy to follow can make it easier for the children to understand and plan in their own minds.
- Can communicate with the other parent – the better the communication between you and the other parent, the greater the chance of success. The court wants to see the parents can communicate about problems that come up about caring for your children and agree on solutions. Ensure your ex has a copy of your roster. Avoid negotiating or arguing in front of your children. It will almost always be better for you to get past who is to blame for the argument and focus on the solution. Go to mediation if you cannot solve your dispute.
- Limit the impact of the arrangement on your children – make the transition between your house and the other parent’s house as seamless as possible. It helps if:
- your house is set up so that the children can avoid carting too much gear (clothes, sports gear etc) between houses;
- you can avoid having completely different rules and routines, so that there is no dramatic change between yours and the other parent’s house, which can be disruptive and confusing to children.
Different arrangements based on the age and developmental needs of your children can be important.
In our region there are plenty of shift workers who have a very active and important role in caring for their children. Building a proposal around these four main factors identified above will help in showing your arrangement is feasible.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.