The Family Law Act 1975 requires the court to regard the best interests of the child

When negotiating or applying for a parenting order it is important to make sure the proposal is workable and in the best interests of the children. The court will decide what is best for the children by looking at a range of considerations.

The court’s primary (most important) considerations are:

  • the benefit of children having a meaningful relationship with both parents
  • the need to protect children from physical and psychological harm, including children seeing family violence, being neglected or being physically or psychologically hurt.

Other considerations are:

  • children’s views – the court will look at how much children understand and how mature they are. Children do not have to express their views if they don’t want to
  • the kind of relationship children have with their parents and other significant people, including grandparents, brothers and sisters, and other relatives
  • whether each parent will encourage a continued, close relationship between the children and the other parent
  • the likely effect of any change to where children have been living or staying, including separating them from either parent, grandparents, siblings, any other relatives or other people important to their welfare
  • the practical difficulty and expense of children seeing each parent, and whether that will affect their right to have a relationship with each parent (this includes spending time with and/or communicating with each other)
  • how much each parent and any other person (including grandparents and other relatives) can provide for the children’s physical, emotional and intellectual needs
  • the maturity, background (including culture and traditions), sex and lifestyle of the children and of each parent, and anything else about the children that the court thinks is important
  • the right of children who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to enjoy their culture (including with others of that culture)
  • each parent’s attitude to the responsibilities of being a parent and towards their children in general
  • any family violence involving the children or a member of their family
  • any family violence order that includes children or a member of the children’s family – the order must have been made after being ‘contested’ (challenged in court) by the other person, or be a final order
  • whether the orders that the parties have applied for will lessen the risk of further court proceedings
  • any other considerations the court thinks important.

In looking at how each parent has participated in their responsibilities as parents, the court must consider:

  • how much each parent has participated in making decisions about major long-term issues that affect the children
  • how much time each parent has spent with and how they have communicated with the children, both during and after the relationship
  • how the parents have encouraged or helped each other to spend time with and communicate with the children
  • whether each parent has maintained the children or failed to do so, for example paying child support on time.

The court can also look at:

  • the history of the relationship and the care of the children
  • the events that have happened since your separation
  • the circumstances that have existed since your separation.

If you are not doing all or most of these things, you should start immediately:

  • Serving meals to children
  • Putting children to bed
  • Reading children stories
  • Dressing the children
  • Disciplining the children (appropriately and in a consistent manner)
  • Taking care of children in the middle of the night
  • Assisting with toilet training
  • Giving children baths
  • Buying children’s clothes
  • Taking children shopping
  • Taking children to doctor
  • Taking children to play with other children
  • Taking children to lessons and classes
  • Cleaning clothes for children
  • Playing and drawing with children
  • Watching television with children
  • Changing children’s diapers
  • Taking off work to take care of sick children
  • Taking children to church
  • Planning and participating in children’s birthday parties

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Author

Alan Weiss

17th March, 2020

Alan Weiss developed aussiedivorce.com.au after he experienced himself how devastating divorce proceedings can be. I witnessed firsthand my own future security, and that of my familys, being destroyed by acrimonious and costly divorce litigation. I created aussiedivorce.com.au to help people avoid an experience like this and lose thousands of dollars. Instead the aussiedivorce.com.au system will assist them in getting on with their lives.