One of the questions we are most frequently asked is:
At what age does the Court allow a child to commence spending overnight time with the other parent?
There is no short answer to this question and it does depend on your particular circumstances. For example, the type of information we would need to know is:
1. How old is your child/children?
2. Are you breastfeeding your child?
3. Have the children spent overnight time with your former partner before? If so, how much?
4. What have the arrangements been post separation?
5. How long have you had your post separation care arrangements?
In some circumstances, it may be best to have the child primarily live with one parent and spend significant and substantial time with the other parent. In other circumstances, it may be best to have the child spending overnight time with both parents, particularly if they have healthy attachment to both parents.
There are a number of different cases that show that there are benefits and disadvantages to young children (in particular, infants or toddlers) to spending overnight time in a number of different households. For example, some research shows there can be negative impacts on a child’s capacity to develop attachments if they are shifted from one house to another for various overnight periods during the week. Conversely, there is also research showing there can be positive impacts for a child to spend overnight time with each parent to ensure the child develops an attachment to both parents. In both situations, it is important to consider the at their developmental stage.
Depending on your family dynamics, there are a multitude of care arrangements that may work best for your family. If you and your former have the capacity to communicate positively and in a healthy manner in front of your children, a shared care arrangement may be plausible. If you and your former partner are in moderate to high conflict or there are high tensions at changeovers, frequent exposure to that tension/conflict and frequent changeovers may not be considered to be in the best interests of the children.
If you have questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your matter further.