Tracey and Rory met at a party held by a mutual friend. They were quickly ‘smitten’ and starting dating soon afterwards. They married a year later in 2008. Both worked full time, were happy building their careers, planned to travel and continue to pay extra on their mortgage before starting a family.
They had a few short holidays and were planning a larger trip to Europe. However, this was not to be as Tracey soon found out she was pregnant. Although the pregnancy was not planned, both were excited and threw all their energy into parenthood. Tracey continued working as a teacher until she was eight months pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy called Jonas on the 8th August 2010. He was a content baby and they were all very happy. One year later, unexpectedly Tracey fell pregnant again with a baby girl.
Taylor was born on the 25th April 2012. Once Taylor was born things became more difficult. She had two small young children very close together. She found motherhood to be quite draining, with no reprieve and little thanks. She longed to return to work. However Rory was against putting the children into childcare so young and thought it would be best if they stayed at home. Tracey agreed, however was not happy with the arrangement.
Over time, Tracey became overwhelmed and insisted on returning to work. At this time, Jonas was 4 years old and Taylor was almost 2 years old. They argued over this for weeks. Rory felt that Taylor was too young to go to daycare, and as he had the larger income, it would be impractical for him to stay home and for Tracey to support them all financially. Tracey however was desperately unhappy at home and in the end Rory and Tracey compromised that Tracey take up her teaching job again part-time.
Tracey was much happier working again. She took Jonas and Taylor to daycare in the morning, but as she began working longer hours, Rory began to collect the children in the evening. Rory started work earlier and left on time to collect Jonas and Taylor from daycare and take them home. Sometimes he prepared dinner and other times Tracey did. But both felt stretched and the resentment grew between them.
Over the next six months, Tracey and Rory became increasingly distant with each other. Tension in their home mounted and the conversation became increasingly terse. Tracey decided she could no longer continue in the marriage and told Rory she wanted to separate.
Devastated, Rory rented a unit ten minutes away from the family home which could accommodate a room for each of the children. Rory missed Jonas and Taylor dreadfully, and tried to see them every day. The communication between Rory and Tracey was ‘cold’ but civil. Rory wanted equal time shared care, however Tracey wanted sole residency of the children. Tracey felt that because her work hours could be the same as school hours, she would be a better carer for the children. Rory was distraught as he previously had been picking up the children from daycare and believed this arrangement could continue. Especially when Tracey left them later in daycare occasionally so she could have extra time to catch up on marking or report writing for her students.
Tracey said that she wanted Rory to maintain contact with Jonas and Taylor and offered contact on alternate weekends. Rory was gutted and insisted that he wanted more time, especially at the children were so small, and was worried that they might forget him when there was no contact for so long. Tracey’s friends advised her that the children needed stability and that more frequent contact would jeopardise their long term psychological health. Rory’s friends said he needed more contact so they could keep up the bonds and his mother stated that more frequent contact would keep them attached to Rory. Tracey and Rory continued to argue about the living conditions and contact of Jonas and Taylor.
Then, there was the discussion about Child Support and who would pay what. His gross income was $94,000pa and Tracey was $76,000pa.
Using the appropriate research and legislation, please answer the following questions. Consider the psychological impact on both parents and children.
- Discuss Tracey’s concerns that the children need to have ‘stability’ (use the research to guide your answer) (max. 1 page – min 7 refs).
- Discuss Rory’s concerns over ‘bonding’ and remaining ‘attached’ to his children (use the research to guide your answer) (max. 1 page – min 7 refs).
- What would the Court take into consideration if they were to mediate this situation (use the legislation to support your answer) (max. 1 page – min 7 refs).
- How much time will Rory have before the process of child support becomes mandatory?
- Visit the website of the Australian Child Support Agency. Work out how much child support Rory would be required to pay Tracey for Jonas and Taylor if the children were with him:
- every second weekend from Friday night to Sunday evening;
- every second weekend from Friday night to Monday morning;
- all day Saturday from 7am-8pm, and all day Sunday the same time but they returned to Tracey in the evenings (0 nights);
- if they shared care (ie. 3 nights one week, 4 nights the next on a fortnightly rotation).
- Provide an argument on the fairness of the child support collection procedure. (Justify your answer using the literature in the area) (max. 1 page – min 7 refs).
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