How does the court decide who children live with?
In deciding what is in the best interest of children the court’s most important considerations are:
- Protecting children from physical and psychological harm
- The benefit of children having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
The court will also consider many other things, including:
- Any views of the children, balanced against how much they 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
- The extent to which each parent has been involved (or not) with decisions about major long-term issues about the children
- How much time each parent has (or has not) spent with and communicated with the children
- Whether each parent has supported the children financially or failed to do so, for example paying child support on time
- 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 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 risks of harm to the children or a member of their family
- Any other considerations the court thinks are important.
What’s the lesson from all this?
The important thing to remember is that that no two cases are the same, that the law is complex, and the Courts have a very wide discretion to make decisions.
It’s only when you go into the detail of the matter, and understand that some factors favour one side, and some factors favour the other, that one is able to predict the outcome through the courts.
Don’t rely on friends, family or Google.
It is essential you obtain specialist legal advice from us about your particular circumstances.
Get advice, get it now, get it right, before you go Wrong.