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Splitting up when a child is involved is a tricky time for everyone. There are no right or wrong answers, but when you and your former partner are at loggerheads it’s important is to be reasonable when it comes to access. But what is reasonable access? Is every other weekend reasonable access?
What is reasonable access?
Reasonable is defined as “meeting the needs of someone or something, without causing damage or harm”.
When you are discussing reasonable access with your former partner it is important to look at what is best for your child. In a perfect world both parents could have fluid access at the drop of the hat and everyone’s happy, but that is not the case. Children need stability in their lives which often happens through repetition and consistent calendars.
Reasonable access means that the child is able to have stability – consistent bed times, never late for school, fed a healthy diet and plenty of opportunities to socialise. After a split, it is the primary caregiver who spends most of their time ensuring this happens who themselves may have to give up and work around the clock to achieve.
If the primary caregiver works full time, then the weekend may be the only chance that they themselves get one on one time for longer than a few hours, they may not wan to give this up. If the ex gets access every weekend then when would the primary caregiver get proper quality time? After all, as the primary caregiver they really need this time for the bond.
In this case, every other weekend seems reasonable. At the end of the day, the former partner may be desperate to see their children but they do not do anywhere near enough parenting to warrant having it.
Is every other weekend unreasonable access?
Unreasonable means “exhibiting a lack of reason or prudence, not based on good sense”.
The mother and the father both have equal rights when it comes to their child unless a court has decided otherwise.
Sometimes, only every other weekend can be unreasonable access. This tends to happen for older children and when it involves a primary caregiver does not have full time responsibilities such as work. In this case, why wouldn’t the ex be able to see their children more?
Would seeing their other parent more benefit them more? If the answer is yes then perhaps every other weekend is unreasonable.
The child’s interests should be at the heart of every decision and if access is being withheld purely out of spite and not because of a genuine reason because the child would suffer for it then it would be reasonable to expect more.
What is ‘normal’ access?
If you have a quick look online then often you’ll find that 1 day every weekend or a full weekend every two weeks is normal. Some parents share access midweek. But, what is normal is not necessarily reasonable/unreasonable.
Being the primary caregiver is hard work and although sometimes it may seem like it’s a day off when the ex has the kids it really isn’t. Children who are unsettled and not in a routine can be challenging at the best of times and the primary caregiver is the one who takes the brunt of that.
If negotiations are not amicable
If you and your former partner can’t decide between you what is reasonable and unreasonable access then it should be for the courts to decide. The courts can act as a neutral middleman to determine how much access is best overall.
Often, things really do work out better when the courts and social services are not involved but sadly, they are sometimes needed to break the deadlock.