Relationships Australia Vice President, Anne Hollonds, commented in the Manly Daily recently that employers are tough on fathers who need to care for children. The comment was made in the context of the conflict facing working fathers in modern society. Although today there is more support for hands-on parenting by fathers, the pressure to provide financially makes it practically difficult for fathers to actively engage in their children’s life during business hours.
The identification of this issue by Relationships Australia raises certain “alarm bells” when considering the practicalities of an equal time shared care arrangement between separated parents. While theoretically, spending equal time with both parents seems ideal, the reality of modern society, in my opinion is that many fathers will never have this opportunity because the pressures of working life make it almost impossible or at the very least impractical. Mothers on the other hand, are often more able to negotiate flexible working arrangements by their employers.
An implication of this harsh reality may be that when the Court is required by the Family Law Act 1975 to consider an equal time shared-care arrangement that fathers are automatically at a disadvantage due to the impracticality of balancing their full-time job with their obligations to their children.