In an attempt to better lay in writing what was already the practice of some Family Courts in Portugal, the law has been expressly changed to foresee the cases where judges can now decree the alternate residency of the child with both parents.
Up until now, when decreeing the child’s residency and visitation rights, the court should decide in accordance with the former’s superior interest, but also take into account all relevant circumstances of the case, such as the possible existence of an agreement between the parents and the availability showed by them to promote frequent relations of the child with the other parent.
Now, the court can determine the alternate residency of the child with both parents, even if the same do not agree to this, should the court decide that it is in the child’s superior interest. It is also clarified that the alternate residency of the child with both parents does not prevent the possibility of one of the parents having to pay maintenance to the other. This will be more evident when there is a substantial difference between the income of each parent, with payment of maintenance being a way to ensure that the child maintains his/her standard of living up until now. It is also expressly mentioned that the court must hear the child before making a decision on any matters regarding parental responsibilities,
something which was not a mandatory requirement up until now.
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