Best Interests of the Child

Section 60CA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) specifically states that in deciding whether to make a particular Parenting Order in relation to a child, a Court must regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration.

Therefore, although each parent (or party) to the proceedings may request that the Court make the final Orders that they are seeking, it is essentially up to the Court to weigh up and consider the request of both parents in light of the paramount consideration, being whether the Orders sought are in the best interests of the child.

What is in the child's best interest is determined by the Court considering the following factors:-

  • The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child's parents.
  • The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.
  • Any views expressed by the child.
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with; each of the child's parents.
  • The willingness and ability of each of the child's parents to facilitate, and encourage, a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • The likely effect of any changes in the child's circumstances, including the likely effect of any separation from; either parent or any other child or other person with whom he or she has been living with.
  • The practical difficulty and expense of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent.
  • The capacity of the child's parents and any other person to provide for the needs of the child, including the emotional and intellectual needs.
  • The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of either of the child's parents.
  • The attitude to the child, and to the responsibilities of parenthood, demonstrated by each of the child's parents.
  • Any family violence involving the child or a member of the child's family.