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How often will I see my children if we separate?

View profile for Greg Cross
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What are the rules on “contact”?
Questions often asked by clients going through separation. The short answer is there are no “rules” in terms of defining a child arrangement contact pattern as every family is different and each case is judged on its own merits. Whether you are going to be the Resident parent (parent with who the children live for the majority) or the Non Resident parent the law is very clear on one thing and that is the involvement of both parents in the children lives is going to further their welfare unless there are significant welfare concerns. In plain English unless the other parent poses a risk of harm to the child, the child should be spending time with that parent. 
The vast majority of parents will agree upon a sensible arrangement that ensures the children enjoy quality time with both parents but often disagreements will ensue. One parent feels they are being marginalised or simply don’t get to spend enough time with the children. If no agreement can be reached and ultimately the court is being asked to assist it will endeavour to reach an outcome that is in the best interests of the children. 
Although there are no “rules” on what a particular contact pattern should be there are some broad concepts that the court will commonly adopt when there are no welfare concerns and its simply a case of the parents not being able to agree and they are as follows;
1. Each parent should be able to enjoy “quality contact” with the children and this generally means weekend time. The days of typically a father having the children every weekend are long gone. Alternate weekends is usually seen as the fairest way to ensure quality contact takes place 
2. Alternate weekends alone are not satisfactory in that the children should not (if possible) go a fortnight without seeing the non resident parent. This means that there should really be some midweek contact also
3. When children are of school age the holiday periods should be shared evenly between the parents 
4. When parents can’t agree on Christmas day and New Years day arrangements the court will commonly order for the arrangements to be alternated each year so that both parents have the opportunity to spend the special days with the children 
Ultimately the court will do the best it can to ensure that any order made is in the best interests of the children taking account of what both parents want. 
If you would like advice on how you can agree child contact arrangements with your partner if you are separated or divorced, please contact a member of our Family Law team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors.