Staying at Dad’s – is there a “too soon”?

When a young child is the focal point of a legal parenting matter, things can become a little bit more difficult than when dealing with, say, a 13 year old, especially when it comes to over night stays.

This is exactly the situation a father of a 23 month old found himself in. The parents had already agreed that the child should live with the mother, but the mother could not agree to overnight time saying that it wasn’t because she thought the father couldn’t care for the child properly, it was just that the child was very young and the father had never spent an entire night alone with the baby before.

The Court had already been told that breastfeeding wasn’t an issue as the baby was settled before bed with a bottle. The Court had also determined that both parents were closely involved with the care of the child and that the child had been placed in day care regularly since she was 8 months old – therefore no major distress from being apart from the mother for a period of time could be foreseen.

The Family Consultant suggested that the parents try one overnight stay each week for two weeks, followed by a counseling session (Child Dispute Conference) to see how the stay had gone and how each parent felt during the stay before any long term decision was made. The Court agreed with this trial and said that each Monday the child would have an overnight stay with the father, as well as having time throughout the week.

From what has been said throughout this matter, the Court seems to be well aware that a child should have an open and close relationship with each parent and that oftentimes this relationship is built when the child is young. This overnight stay- if continued- will be a great way of ensuring that the father and the child can form a close bond.

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