What does the Court look for when determining child arrangements?

Determining the outcome of a child custody case isn’t easy on either parent, but it often helps to know what factors go into the court’s decision.

Father hugging children after visiting divorce lawyers in Australia to make child arrangements

While it’s impossible to predict the result of a case with certainty, there is a wide range of elements that are considered indicators of which parent is best fit to receive primary or sole care of a child.

The Family Law Act requires the court to look at the following factors when ruling on what is in the best interest of the child:

1. The benefit of a child having a meaningful relationship with both parents

The objects underlying the Family Law Act are to ensure that a child has a meaningful relationship with both parents.  This is therefore a primary consideration when looking at the care arrangements for the child.

2. The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm, abuse, neglect or family violence

It is important that any parenting arrangements do not put the child’s safety at risk.  This consideration is given the greater weight, even where it may conflict with ensuring a meaningful relationship with both parents.

3. The wishes expressed by the child

As the primary concern of the custody process is to determine what would be best for the child, their wishes are naturally taken into high consideration. Of course, the court must also consider factors such as the age and maturity level of the child as well as their ability to interpret the situation when expressing their wishes.

4. The nature and history of the child’s relationship with each parent

The current and previous relationship between the parent and child and the role of the parent in the child’s life will be factored into the decision making process.

5. How a change to the circumstances of the child may affect them

If the child has been living with one parent, the court will consider how being separated from that parent and/or other people associated with that parent (for example, grandparents, siblings or partners) would impact them.

6. The practical difficulties that may occur with certain custody arrangements

This could manifest in a number of different ways, such as financial, lifestyle or education barriers that might occur if one parent were to be granted majority custody.

7. Each parent’s ability to provide for the emotional and intellectual needs of the child

This can be of particular concern if the child had emotional or intellectual disabilities, as the court will seek to ensure that those needs are cared for appropriately.

8. Each parent’s attitude and demonstrated commitment to their role as a parent

If a parent has shown no evidence of being a dedicated parent to the child in question, the court will take this into careful consideration. 

9. If there is any history of family violence

This will be an important factor in determining who is most suitable to care for the child.

10. Any other factors that the court feels relevant to your specific circumstances

Each child custody case is different and presents a unique set of family circumstances. The courts will ensure that any relevant factors are considered before the final child arrangements ruling is made.

If you are facing a child custody case, it’s always best to seek advice from experienced family lawyers. Contact Australian Family Lawyers via the form below to speak to a dedicated family law professional today.

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