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NSW De Facto Relationship and Dad to Be - See My Kids?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by SingleDadToBe78, 16 July 2015.

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  1. SingleDadToBe78

    16 July 2015
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    Hi everyone,
    I'm new here and I'm seeking answers from any dads who may have gone through this, as I'm having trouble finding information readily available, short of paying for expensive legal advice.

    My partner and I separated 5 months ago, and she is expecting our kids (twins) in September.
    We are about to enter into family law mediation to work out co-parenting, and she has come back to me with what she wants agreed upon, and has said that I am only allowed to see my kids 2 hours a day on a Saturday and Sunday, 3 weekends a month, and she says that is apparently the standard for separated dad's and spending time with newborns?

    I can't work out where she has gotten this information from, and though I agree that the newborns shouldn't be away from their mother, and they will be with her 24-7. But as a father who wants to spend time with his kids, this seems completely unreasonable. I have asked her for more weekend time, and she tells me this is unreasonable, because I am asking for more than the minimum standard of the 2 hours that she has specified.

    And what free legal advice I have been given, they have told me that as we are not married, and the children aren't born yet, that I don't really have any rights in that regard.

    We are going to mediation, which is a good thing, but I would just like to know, as a father, what legal rights do I have as far as how much time I am allowed to see and spend with my kids?

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

    23 July 2014
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    First, to clarify, your children's time with you is not an 'allowance' that the mother is free to determine alone. It's a legal right under s 60B of the Family Law Act 1975, and both you and the mother will have equal shared parental responsibility for the children when they're born, meaning you both have equal say about major long-term decisions relating to their long-term care, welfare and development, including their care arrangements.

    It is true that right now, rights don't really come into it, but it is good that both parties are willing to attend mediation to discuss care arrangements for the kids.

    If you're looking for some information about suitable care arrangements for infants, I strongly suggest contacting Relationships Australia and doing a child consultation, which is an informative one-on-one with a child expert who can advise you as to how different arrangements can impact the children, and what arrangements might be suitable for your circumstances.

    From my own research, I've learned that when children are very young, it's generally accepted among psychologists that time between the non-residential parent and the children should be for shorter periods, but more often. As they grow older, they're more capable of being away from the primary attachment figure (which is a term referring to emotional attachment, rather than 'primary carer', which refers to physical care arrangements) for longer periods, and overnight time can be implemented gradually from when they're about 2 years of age, provided the attachment between parent and child is healthy and secure.

    Generally speaking, breastfeeding means care arrangements for infants must be for brief periods. From my own research, I've established a personal opinion that children in their infancy should spend about two hours with the non-residential parent every two to three days, but should avoid having that time when the kids are ordinarily sleeping (to maintain routine, and to ensure the children can build a relationship with you) or feeding. This tends to provide a good opportunity for the kids to develop a secure attachment to you, without impeding on their routines and the like.

    When they stop breastfeeding, that time can be increased - for example, maybe every Sunday from 10am to 3pm, and from 4pm to 6pm once each week so they can experience feeding and sleep times with you. It's important for you, the kids and your shared relationship that your kids enjoy time with you that incorporates regular care, like feeding, naps, play, etc.

    In many circumstances, 2 years of age is deemed an acceptable age to incorporate overnight time - alternate Saturdays, for example, and time after school/day care once each week. As they grow up from there, more nights can be added.

    However, the variables that influence there are dependent on the family and the child. Some kids don't handle time away from the primary attachment figure as well as others, so overnight time takes longer to implement, while conflict between the parents make it harder for the children to develop a secure attachment to the other parent. In your case, the children will not have spent overnight time with you in the same way kids do in families that were in tact at birth, so it may take longer for the kids to feel comfortable with overnight time.

    In any case, one thing is certain - regular time with you is crucial to ensuring their relationship with you can be developed and maintained to their benefit.

    If you want to go to your mediation with facts, however, please do speak to Relationships Australia about having a child consultation. They're very, very helpful, even before the kids are born, and I'm quite certain their child consultations are free. I might also suggest requesting at mediation that both parties attend a post-separation parenting course with Relationships Australia to help you both communicate and maintain an amicable relationship. They're also very helpful.

    I hope this helps.
    Tracy B likes this.

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