The Question: How much overnight time should a child spend with the other parent?
- 30 Jun 2014
This is a question clients often posed to Family Lawyers and Family Law Court judges. Whilst each parent may have a different personal (often rigid) opinion, what do the experts have to say about this?
Previously, most non-custodial parents were told that they had no hope of having a child under the age of three overnight if the primary carer parent was against it. It was common that some parents would face a tough battle continuing their involvement with a young child because of prejudices resulting from a theory that it was best for a child under four years of age to sleep in the same home every night due to the importance of the primary attachment relationship with the custodial parent and potential separation anxiety for the child. Limited contact of a couple of hours on a frequent basis was considered to be the best outcome.
Recently, extensive academic research has found that young children often develop attachment relationships with more than one person. For, example if both parents work and the child spends a lot of time with grandparents, it would be likely that the child has attachment to mother, father and grandparents. Where there is such attachment to both parents, the academic researchers conclude that, in most instances, the children will benefit from having overnight time with both parents. This debunks the previous theory that a young child should sleep in the same home each night. The research goes further to suggest that if a young child is prevented from spending overnight time with the other parent, it may end up diminishing the quality of the parent-child relationship at this important developmental stage.
However, it is important to remember that the research cannot be applied to every real-life situation. Each family is different and each family dispute should be assessed individually by an experienced expert. Some cases are inherently challenging and need a Specialist Firm, such as Melbourne Family Lawyers, to achieve the best result for both parent and child.Back to all Articles & Cases