saraIn situations where one of the parties lives a considerable distance from where the children reside, the question may arise as to which parent or carer is to pay the costs of travel to spend time with the children?

This question was raised in the appeal case of Lorreck & Watts [2013] FamCAFC. In June 2012, the Full Court of the Family Court allowed the children to move from Canberra to Cairns with the mother and the father was to spend seven block periods within every two years with the children. The father had remained living in Canberra.

The mother, who was reliant on Child Support and Government Benefits at the time, argued that she should only pay for one return flight per two years until she was earning $1,300 per week. The father’s position was that the mother should pay 2 of every 3 trips considering that she had moved away.

The court made orders that from July 2013, the mother and the father should bear the costs of the travel equally. The mother appealed this decision.

Her Honour, on appeal, found that the court at first instance did not provide sufficient reasons for why he made the orders for the joint payment of the travel expenses.

Her Honour looked at whether the mother would be willing and able to actually earn $1,300 per week.  Whilst not demeaning the mother or her ability, the court found on appeal that it would be more prudent for there to be a start date on the mother’s payment of the costs of travel as it may have potentially been disadvantageous to the father in the future if the mother never earned that allocated amount of money per week.

For the above and other reasons, Her Honour made orders that from 1 January 2014, being the start of the two year period for the father to spend time with the children, the mother shall pay for three of the seven return trips. Prior to that, the mother only had to pay for one trip due to her financial circumstances.

We have the experience and expertise to assist you with all your Family Law needs because Helping You is Our Business.

Click here for more information on Sara Burnheim.