For years; McDonald’s Family Restaurants were the default changeover locations ordered by the Court in the absence of agreement between the parents.
It is easy to see why this was the case: children could be distracted from the palpable tension between their parents during changeover. McDonald’s would be a familiar venue for the children attend and they’d naturally be excited at the prospect of getting their little hands on those colourful “happy meal” boxes.
The relaxed happy atmosphere assures children that all is well and the public nature with often ample parking made it a very convenient default location.
For parents who had endured family violence during the relationship; the assurance of CCTV cameras at McDonald’s Restaurants provided some semblance of security against further instances of verbal or physical abuse.
Despite these reasons however; Family Court Judicial Officers and Independent Children’s Lawyers have been reeling away from nominated McDonald’s Restaurants as the default changeover location (no doubt McDonald’s would have felt the ramifications of this move considering the expanding number of separated families in Australia)
The presence and promotion of fast food at McDonalds Restaurants sets a poor example for children and the juvenility of the playground and colourful characters can quickly become a source of embarrassment for older children. Often times; the car parks can be poorly lit at night and the restaurants cannot always be easily accessed via public transport.
So where does this leave us?
Alternative changeover locations that have been nominated include public libraries which facilitate for a quiet and positive environment for the children (albeit opening times are somewhat restrictive especially during holiday periods); a mutual friend or grandparents’ home or in extreme cases; police stations.
Unfortunately parents often allocate little effort to selecting an appropriate changeover location and at times it is a mere afterthought after having battled to reach a spend time arrangement that would be mutually suitable for both the parents and children.
The suitability of a particular changeover location will vary on a case by case basis; having regard to the age of the children; the history of the relationship and occurrence family violence; the level of hostility between the parents and accessibility of all parties to the nominated location.
Feel free to contact us to discuss your matter and suitable changeover locations for your individual circumstances.