The factors that children’s “best interests”
The court’s most important considerations are:
- Protecting children from physical and psychological harm, including children seeing family violence, being neglected or being physically or psychologically hurt; and
- The benefit of children having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.
If these two considerations are in conflict with each other the priority is the protection of the children from physical and emotional harm.
What Other considerations that the court must have regard to ?
There are many other factors that the court can consider in determining where the best interests of the children lie. Some examples are as follows:-
- Any views of the children, balanced against their ability to express them. Children do not have to express their views if they don’t want to.
- The type of relationship the children have with their parents.
- The extent to which each parent has been involved (or not) with decisions about major long-term issues about the children.
- How much time each parent has spent with and communicated with the children.
- Whether each parent has supported the children financially or failed to do so, for example paying child support on time.
- The likely effect of any change to the children’s living arrangements.
- The practical difficulty and expense of the children seeing each parent, and whether that will affect their right to have a relationship with each parent.
- How much each parent and any other person can provide for the children’s physical, emotional and intellectual needs.
- The maturity, background (including culture and traditions), sex and lifestyle of the children and of each parent, and anything else about the children that the court thinks is important.
- The right of children who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to enjoy their culture (including with others of that culture).
- Any family violence involving the children or a member of their family.
- Any contested or final family violence order that includes the children or a member of the children’s family.
- Whether the orders that the parties have applied for will lessen the risk of further court proceedings.
- Any other considerations the court thinks are important.
The scope of the considerations open to the court are not limited, which makes sense when you consider that no two families are alike. However all of these considerations can make it sound complicated, and it can be.
Our Family Law Solicitors are mindful of the difficulty parents face in trying to determine parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of children. Our experience in advising clients, engaging with other practitioners and appearing in court allows us to provide accurate guidance and lots of options to clients to ensure that parenting arrangements can be resolved quickly and in a way that is in the best interests of their children.
Brochures – Kate Austin
Brochures – Court