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In Family Court cases concerning the children and the time that they spend with each of their parents the Court will consider what is in the best interests of the children and the suitability of each of the parents in relation to parenting.
Watson & Watson experienced Family Lawyers give careful consideration to the matters that must be taken into account and how those matters will be taken into account by the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court.
The children’s wishes are a matter that is considered by the Court. What consideration will be given to the views expressed by the children in a parenting case when making orders as to what are in the best interest of those children.
There are many issues that arise including the influence on the children by one or other of the parents or persons in expressing their wishes.
As part of the process sometimes the Court appoints an Independent Children’s Lawyer to appear on behalf of the children. A parenting case also involves a Family Consultant appointed by the Court to consider how the children interact with the parents. The Family Consultant prepares a report following interviews with the children and parents which report is then provided to the Court.
Not always are the reports of the Family Consultant accepted. However the reports are a very good guide as to what is the likely outcome of the proceedings.
The Family Consultants are trained to consider the basis of the children’s comments and wishes. Sometimes the parents try and influence what the children’s real wishes are. Most of this is counter-productive as the Consultants are experienced and try and understand the children’s real wishes and the children’s basis of forming those wishes.
The Family Court or Federal Circuit Court in considering this considers all factors in a case for example the ages of the children, health of the children, the parents conduct and the views expressed by the children.
There is a separate issue namely whether the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court will make an order in accordance with the children’s real wishes in all circumstances having regard to the Courts requirement to consider what is in the best interest of those children.
Whilst under the Family Law Act the Court is required to consider any views expressed by a child the significance the Court places on the view or wishes is a matter for the Courts discretion. The discretion must be exercised by the Court reasonably and without bias.
Ultimately the Court’s paramount obligation and concern is to make parenting orders that are in the best interest of the children.
The wishes of a child may not necessarily be in that child’s best interest when balanced against other considerations. For example a Court is unlikely to accept a child’s wishes and adopt those wishes to be with a parent if the evidence establishes that that parent is dangerous and may harm that child.
Further for a young child it is difficult for the Court to clearly ascertain the child’s views in particular where the Court is of the view that the child has been unduly influenced by one or other of the parents.
Our experienced Family Law solicitors at Watson & Watson can assist you if you have any concerns or queries regarding contact arrangements for children, the time to be spent with each parent or what is in the best interest of your child. Please do not hesitate to contact Richard Watson or his assistant Shereen Da Gloria should you have any queries or concerns in this regard.
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