What are the best interests of the child?

Both parents are responsible for the welfare and care of the child until the child is 18 years old.

‘Best interests’ usually involve shared responsibility and cooperation between the parents

How does the Court determine what are the ‘best interests’ of the child?

There are two tiers of considerations the Court will take into account. They are: Primary Considerations and Additional Considerations. These are under Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

 

Primary Considerations

 

  • the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents
  • the need to protect the child from psychological or physical harm from preventing exposure or subjection to abuse, neglect or family violence

 

The Court places greater weight on the necessity to protect the child from harm.

 

Additional Considerations

 

  • the child’s own views and how their maturity and level of understanding affects their view
  • the child’s relationship with each parent, as well as other relevant family members such as grandparents or other relatives
  • the willingness and ability of each parent to foster an ongoing and close relationship between the child and the other parent
  • the likely effect of the change in circumstances on the child, including separation from the parents and/or relatives they are living with currently
  • the general maturity, lifestyle, sex and background of the child and other characteristics considered relevant to the case
  • the right of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child to their culture and whether any proposed parenting orders would hinder this
  • any family violence involving the child or a member of their family
  • the extent to which each parent has or has not previously fulfilled their parental responsibilities, such as whether they have:
  • participated in long-term decisions regarding the child
  • spent time with the child
  • met their obligations to maintain the child, and
  • facilitated the other parent’s involvement in the child’s life

 

It is clear that the ‘best interests’ of the child are different for each case. The Court will consider the circumstances of your separation in order to decide what is best for your child.