What is ‘the best interests of the child’?
Family Law Act 1975 (‘The Act’) was amended in 1995 to include the term ‘best interest’ in relation to children. Now including both short-term and long-term concerns, the Act considers the child’s physical and emotional well-being and health, as well as financial, moral, cultural, educational and religious interests.
There are two tiers of consideration, namely primary considerations and additional considerations.
Primary Considerations include:
- The benefit for the child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents;
- The need to protect the child from physical and psychological harm whether by being subjected to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence; and
- The Court will give greater weight to the need for protecting the children from harm.
Additional Considerations include:
- The child’s relationship with each parent, relatives and family friends;
- The ability and willingness of each parent to encourage a meaningful relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The child’s views, their level of maturity and understanding that may affect those views;
- The likely effect on the child of a change in circumstances, including separation form a parent of person that the child has been living with;
- The practicality and expense of a child communicating and spending time with the other parent;
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs;
- Considers of maturity, sex, lifestyle, background and other characteristics of the child that the Court may see relevant;
- Rights of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to enjoy their culture and the impact a parenting plan may have on that enjoyment;
- Each parent’s attitude towards the child and their responsibility as a parent;
- Any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family;
- Any family violence order that applies to the child or member of the child’s family, if:
- it is a final order, or
- the making of the order was contested by a person;
- Whether the making of the order would least likely lead to further court applications and hearings in relation to the child; and
- Any other factors that the Court may deem relevant.
A court may also consider each parents efforts to meet their parental responsibilities, including:
- Taking any opportunity to
- participate in making long-term decisions about the child;
- spending time with the child;
- Communication with the child and has:
- met their obligations to maintain the child; and
- facilitation of the other parents involvement in these aspects of the child’s life.
If the parents have separated, the court will also consider events and circumstances since the separation.
For more information, visit the Family Court site here.
Speaking with our Principal, Gina Hagan today will put your mind at ease if you are concerned about the family law process. Call us today on
07 5630 6506.