Parenting Cases – The Best Interests of the Child

The Family Law Act 1975 requires the court to consider the best interest of the child as the most important consideration when making a parenting law. When making parenting plans, the parents are encouraged to use this principle.

According to the Family Law Act:

  • Until the children reach the age of 18 years, both the parents are responsible for the welfare and care of their children.
  • The cooperation and shared responsibilities arrangement between the parents should be in the best interest of the child.

The court’s primary considerations

When a court has to decide what is best for the child, the following points have to be considered first.

  • The advantage of having a meaningful relationship with both the parents.
  • The need to protect the child from psychological or physical harm (family violence, neglect and/or abuse).

The court’s additional considerations

The court also has to consider the following points.

  • The relationship of the children with their parents, and with other family members.
  • The child’s point of view, and the factors like the level of understanding and the maturity of the child, that impact those views.
  • The ability and willingness of one parent, for the child to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
  • The ability of each parent to meet the needs of the children.
  • The effect, physical and/or psychological, the child may have in accordance with the changed circumstances.
  • The expense, both in terms of money and practicality, that may occur in the child spending time with a parent.
  • The characteristics, like the background, lifestyle, sex, maturity, and so on, of the child, and that of the parents, that the court finds to be relevant.
  • The impact the parenting order may have on the right of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child, to enjoy his/her culture.
  • The outlook of both the parents towards the child, and their seriousness regarding the responsibilities of parenthood.
  • The preferability of the court order in relation to the child that would least likely lead to further hearings and court applications
  • Whether a parent had taken the opportunity to be involved in any major long-term decision-making with regards to the child’s future.
  • Whether a parent had met their obligations to maintain the child.
  • Whether facilitated the other parent’s involvement in these aspects of the child’s life.
  • Any other relevant information or circumstance that the court thinks is important.

If the court is dealing with the case of a child whose parents have already separated, then it has to take into consideration the circumstances and events since the separation.

If you need any advice regarding parenting plans or separation, Icon Legal can assist you.