The best interest of children is well protected and guarded by the Family Law Act 1975. There are many provisions in the said law that are devoted to the protection and determination of a child’s best interest. Parenting proceedings in family law cases revolve around these provisions since the interest and welfare of children are paramount to that of their parents.
This particular section in the Family Law Act provides guidelines for the courts in ensuring a child’s best interests. The law recognizes the benefit of the child having the care of both his parents. A meaningful involvement in the child’s life is allowed to both parents if this will promote the child’s best interest.
Once the parents are involved in the child’s life they are expected to fulfil their parental duties and responsibilities. Parents catering to their child’s welfare, care and development will help children to develop their full potential.
However, the benefit of the child having the involvement of both parents is checked and balanced by the need to ensure the child’s safety. Protecting the child from physical or psychological harm or from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect, or physical violence will have greater weight in the determination of a child’s best interest. The involvement of the parents in the child’s life will give way to keep the child safe from a harmful parent.
It is a universal right of children to know their parents and to have their care and presence in their lives. The fact that parents are married, separated or have never married or been together is not important since the child has nothing to do with the civil status of parents.
Children should not be made to suffer for the consequences of their parents’ relationships which is why regardless of the status of their relationship the parents are required to fulfil their obligations to their child.
All things being normal and equal, the parents are to take on their responsibilities jointly. This means that they must jointly care for the child. Decisions that concern the child must be made together by the parents.
The active and positive involvement of other relatives in the child’s life is also beneficial to a child. Thus, it is a child’s right to be surrounded by persons other than his parents who can help in his holistic development. These significant persons are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives with whom the child has the right to spend time with and have constant communication.
Finally, the right of the child to enjoy his culture is also enshrined in Section 60B. This right is exercised by having the child in the environment of people who enjoy the same culture and allowing the child to explore and develop an appreciation for his culture.