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Quesion of the week #1

Q: How does the Family Court determines the best interests of children?

A: Pursuant to section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 when working out what is in your children’s best interests, the court looks at two Primary Considerations and a number of Additional Considerations.

If you present any submissions and evidence to the court it is always better to follow the same structure as the Court applies in making parenting orders. This is how you can be sure that your submissions and evidence are relevant to the case.

PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS

1) The need to protect children from physical and psychological harm, abuse, neglect or family violence that has been directed at them or that they have seen or heard; and

2) The benefit to the children of having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
The Family Court places greater weight on the need to protect children from harm, abuse, neglect or family violence above the benefit to children of having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

1) What the children think, taking into account their maturity and level of understanding (children do not have to say what they think if they do not want to)

2) The relationship the children have with each of their parents and with other important people in their lives, such as grandparents or brothers and sisters;

3) Whether each parent has taken the opportunity to participate in making long term decisions about the children, as well as spent time with and communicated with the children;

4) Whether each parent has assisted in maintaining the children;

5) What the effect might be on the children if there was a change to their living arrangements, including being separated from siblings or other people important in their lives;

6) The practical issues for the children in spending time with and communicating with each parent, including, how much it is likely to cost;

7) Whether the children’s parents or other people (such as grandparents) can provide for the children’s needs, including their emotional needs and intellectual needs (not just financial needs);

8) Particular things about the children and the parents, such as their maturity, their lifestyle, background and culture;

9) The right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to enjoy their culture, including sharing that culture with other people of that culture and the effect of any parenting orders on this right;

10) The parents’ attitudes toward their children and to their responsibilities as parents;

11) Any family violence involving the children or a member of the children’s family;

12) Whether it is better for the court to make an order that means that the parents are less likely to come back to court about the children again, and
Anything else that the court thinks is important.