Family Law Act mandates best interests of the child in making parenting order
The Court is mandated by the Family Law Act to always decide in accordance with the best interests of the child when making a parenting order
. The law recognizes the right of the child to spend equal time with his parents and be cared for by both of them. However, this is not an absolute rule because the law will always favour what is in the best interest of the child. For instance, in the face of family violence or abuse the court will always consider first the safety of the child.
First, the court will consider whether spending equal time with both parents is in the best interest of the child. If not, then the Court will next consider whether spending a substantial amount of time with each parent would be in the best interest of the child.
In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court will consider the following factors:
- Need to ensure the child’s safety from physical and psychological harm;
- Existence of any violence in the family;
- Child’s relationship with parents and other significant persons;
- Maturity, age and sex of the child;
- Practical difficulty and expense that entails a child having contact with a parent;
- Capability of the parents to provide for the needs of the child;
- Effect of any changes to the child’s circumstances;
- Personal views of the child if already of mature age or the court considers the child to be mature beyond his years;
- Any and all other circumstances relevant to the child’s welfare;
· Whether the issuance of the Parenting Order is likely to cause either party to pursue further proceedings.