Family Law Blog

Parenting Orders for Young Children - What is best for your child?

Posted by Karina Ralston on 14 Aug 2014

As discussed in my previous blog, the Court will make arrangements for any child based on its determination of what is in the best interests of that child.

The Family Law Court (“the Court”) recognises the period from birth to four years old is an important developmental stage for any child.  The Court in making Parenting Orders often turn their mind to attachment theory, a social science concept that a child has a primary attachment to someone that provides that child with a sense of security and comfort (their mother, father or grandparents).  The Court is aware young children cannot monitor and control their emotions and rely heavily on their primary attachment figure for the attention they need to feel loved, secure and safe.

Research also holds that a child can have more than one primary attachment figure, if the child has a regular and predicable contact with those figures.  The Court takes these factors into consideration and where there is more than one primary attachment, the Court may look at arrangements that provide for the child to spend regular time with both parents in any Orders made, including overnight time . In these cases smaller, more frequent periods of time may be ordered for young children.

This ensures the child will not be away from either parent for extended periods of time, as young children do not understand the concept of “tomorrow” or “goodbye” and can become quite anxious as they do not understand why the other parent has left them and do not know when they will see them again.

Research indicates that young children often establish an image of their primary figure that they can pull out for comfort when they are separated from them. This concept is important for young children who are living in two (or more) households as the research indicates a child needs to spend enough time with each parent to be able to establish the image and maintain it. For this reason the Court implements frequent changeovers so that the child is able to maintain the images they have of and the attachment they have with each parent. 

Organising parenting arrangements for your young child can be difficult as there are many factors to be taken into account. A Family Law Specialist can provide advice as to appropriate arrangements for your current situation.

If you need advice on parenting orders please contact our experienced family lawyers: