What are the primary and secondary considerations of the court in relation to the best interests of a child?

What are the primary and secondary considerations of the court in relation to the best interests of a child?

The most important consideration of the court when issuing an order, is the best interests of the child. The manner in which the court will determine what is in a child’s best interests is found in s 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)(the Act) and is broken down as primary and additional considerations.

Primary considerations: the primary considerations are as follows:

  • the benefit of the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents;
  • the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

Additional considerations: the additional considerations are as follows:

  • any views expressed by the child and any factors such as the maturity level or level of understanding that the court thinks is relevant;
  • the nature of the relationship that the child has with each parent, and with others that includes grandparents or other relatives;
  • the extent that each parent has taken, or failed to take the opportunity:
    • to participate in making decisions about major long-term issues in relation to the child;
    • to spend time with the child;
    • to communicate with the child;
  • the extent to which each parent has fulfilled their obligations to maintain the child;
  • the likely effect on the child of any changes in their circumstances;
  • the practical difficulties and expense of a child spending time with and communicating with a parent, and whether that difficulty or expense will substantially affect the right of the child to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents regularly;
  • the capacity of each parent and other persons to provide for the needs of the child, including any emotional and intellectual related needs;
  •  the maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of the child and the parents;
  • the child’s right to enjoy their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture if the child is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child;
  • the attitude of the parents to the child and to parenting;
  • any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family members;
  • any family violence orders;
  • the need to make an order that will minimise any future proceedings;
  • any other fact or circumstances that court thinks is relevant.

For any person that may be experiencing any family law issues should contact a legal practitioner who will be able to assist with their matter.