Sunday, 21 August 2011

Shared care: not reasonably practicable

In a recent case, Wainder and Wainder a trial judge ordered that the parties share the care of the their son on an equal basis after he turned 5. The only snag was that by then he would be going to school, with the mother living on Sydney's north shore, and the father living in the western suburbs. Not surprisingly, the mother appealed, and was successful:

  1. It may be implicit in his Honour’s order that the child spend equal time with her parents in 2012, that he was satisfied that that arrangement was reasonably practicable within the construct of s 65DAA(5). However the trial Judge’s comments ... appear to us to be an acknowledgement that the proposed order to come into force in 2012 may not be reasonably practicable if the parties were living in their present locations.
  2. The order impugned is open ended and would, without further litigation, extend throughout the child’s school life. Where the court proposes to make orders stretching into the future, the consideration of whether a proposed order is reasonably practicable should focus on the date of enlivenment of the order. The trial Judge is required to make a prediction at the date of trial on the evidence then before him or her as to whether at the date on which the order takes effect, it will be practicable or “feasible”.
  3. Although his Honour paid careful attention to the matters in s 60CC and thereby determined that the proposed order for equal time was in the child’s best interests, he did not proceed to determine whether, on the evidence available to him, the order for equal time would be reasonably practicable once the child started school, and in this respect, fell into error.

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