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In considering what Orders the Court (either the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court) will make, the Court considers what is in the children’s best interest. The Court will do this by looking at the following primary (most important) and additional (other) considerations.
It should not be assumed that following separation, the children of the marriage or relationship will automatically be spending equal time with each of their parents. This is not the approach taken by the Courts.
The primary considerations that the Court will take into account are:
1. The benefit of the children having a meaningful relationship with each party.
2. The need to protect children from physical and psychological harm. This includes children seeing family violence, being neglected or being physically or psychologically hurt or abused.
The need to protect a child from physical and psychological harm including family violence and abuse will come first ahead of other considerations.
The additional considerations that the Court will take into account are:
1. The children’s views. The Court will look at how much the children understand and how mature the children are. The children do not have to express views if they prefer not to.
2. The kind of relationship the children have with each of their parents and other significant people including grandparents, siblings and other relatives.
3. How much each parent has participated in making decisions about major long term issues affecting the children including:
In general the Court will also look at the history of the relationship and children’s care and the events and circumstances that have happened since the parents separated.
The Court will also look at:
(a) How far apart the parents live from each other;
(b) The parents current and future capacity to implement an arrangement for the children spending equal time, substantial or significant time with each of the parents; and
(c) The parents current and future capacity to communicate with each other and resolve difficulties that might arise in implementing an arrangement concerning the child or children.
(d) The impact that an arrangement would have on the child; and
(e) Such other matters as the Court considers relevant.
Please do not hesitate to contact Richard Watson, Family Law Solicitor or Shereen Da Gloria his assistant if you and your partner are unable to reach amicable contact arrangements in the best interest of your child/ren or if you and your partner have agreed on contact arrangements and you wish to protect your position or should you have any specific concerns relating to contact arrangements and how the Court will decide.
This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 02 9221 6011.
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