A Queensland father has had his contact visits with his daughter halved after the mother felt that he was getting to have all the fun, leaving her with the day-to-day “drudgery and hard work”. The arrangement was that the mother would have her daughter from Monday to Friday and the father would spend time with her on weekends. As the daughter is in school, this resulted in the mother having the daily tasks of getting her to and from school, helping with homework and then putting her to bed, which didn’t leave very much ‘down time’ between the mother and daughter.
The Federal Magistrates court then ordered that the daughter spend every second weekend with her father so that the mother can spend weekend time with her daughter as well. The reasoning behind the judgment was that the child had begun to show signs of an anxiety disorder. Additionally, it is set out in the Family Law Act that a meaningful relationship with both parents is a factor for the court to take into consideration when making orders for children. A meaningful relationship is likely to be considered by the court as a balanced relationship with each parent compared to one parent being the ‘fun’ parent, and the other being the parent in charge of the more mundane tasks of parenting. Additionally, in order for a child to spend ‘substantial and significant time’ with each parent, the Act requires the child to spend both weekdays and weekends with the parent, and for the parent to be involved in every day routines as well as special occasions.
With the father being able to take the child to special places such as Dreamworld, Sea World and Alma Park Zoo, the mother was restricted to only weekdays and daily routines which is contrary to the Act. The magistrate recognised that the original custody deal was “unusual in the extreme” most likely because of the imbalance it would cause.