Observing that a child needs both father and mother, the Bombay High Court at Goa recently while dealing with Writ Petitions related to a 3-year-old's visitation rights, allowed the father of the child to have visitation rights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 12:30 pm to 7:00 pm along with the overnight access to the minor child on weekends, starting from Friday at 12:30 pm until Sunday at 1:00 pm.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Prakash D. Naik dealt with two distinct Writ Petitions filed independently by the father and the mother, both contesting a decision made by the Family Court. The father sought a modification of the Family Court's order, specifically requesting weekend overnight access to the child in addition to the previously granted 6 hours of access for three days. Conversely, the mother challenged the order with the aim of having the Family Court's decision, which granted visitation rights on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm, set aside.

The father argued that the appellate Court failed to appreciate that if weekend custody is given to him, the child would get accustomed to living with the father. It was argued that the attempt of the father for weekend custody is to see that the child gets accustomed and acclimatized to the father’s home. He also stated that it was an error to hold that grant of visitation rights every day would amount to a nuisance and that the father wants to spend quality time with the child and be part of the upbringing of the child which is a normal desire of every parent.

Contesting that the Weekend custody should not be given to the father, the mother submitted to the High Court that the father was not taking good care of the child and he was an unfit parent. She stated that while the child was in the custody of the father, he had several injuries or fallen sick. She also submitted that she takes great care of the child and all expenditures of the child and the child has no feelings for the father.

It was also submitted by the wife that in the settlement recorded previously by the Court, it was observed that insofar as weekend custody is concerned, since the child is settled at one place in a familiar environment and since he requires breastfeeding of the mother, giving weekend custody to the father shall totally unsettle the arrangement and it may cause severe inconvenience to the child.

Considering the submissions of both parties, the Court noted that the child needs love and affection from both parents. The Judge observed that it cannot be said that the father is unable to give love, care and protection to the child.

The Court further observed, "Both the parents are educated. It is expected that they would understand that ultimately the welfare of the child is important. Disharmony between the parents should not affect the child. The child should develop acquaintance with both the parents. The child needs father and mother. The child would grow. Various future aspects such as education, all round development of child is required to be noted for future prospect of child. Considering these circumstances, the visitation rights or weekend custody of the child cannot be denied to the father."

Accordingly, the Judge directed, "Father will have overnight access of the minor child on week end. Father shall pick up the child from the school on Friday at 12.30 p.m and shall have overnight custody of the child till Saturday at 7.00p.m. If Friday is holiday, father shall pick up the child from residence of mother. This arrangement shall continue for a period of six months. Thereafter father will have overnight custody of the minor child on week end from Friday at 12.30p.m till Sunday at 1.00p.m. Father shall handover custody of the minor child to the mother on Sunday at 1.00p.m. at her residence. This order with regards to overnight custody will come into effect from 17.11.2023".

Cause Title: Amey Dilip Sardessai v. Gayatri Amey Sardessa & connected matter [WRIT PETITION NO.360 OF 2023]

Click here to read/download the Order