Under the Family Law Act, all couples are required to attempt to resolve parenting matters outside of court. The Act requires that all parties attend mediation with a Family Dispute Resolution service before they can go to court. There are some exceptions to this rule, particularly if there are concerns for a person’s safety. It is also very important to note that the Family Law Act says that all decisions that are made about children must be to uphold the best interests of the child.
Under the Family Law Act, lawyers need to look at lots of information prior to assessing what is right for children, however, the main priority is always what is in the children’s best interests. When determining what is in a child’s best interests, the following things are generally assessed:
- The benefit of the child/ren having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
- Ensuring the children are prevented from harm/family violence or risk either physically or psychologically.
- The effect of any change in living arrangements on the child/ren.
- A history of family violence in either household.
- The lifestyle, maturity and background of the child/ren and the child/ren’s parents.
- Each parent’s capacity to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child/ren and the other parent.
- Depending on the age of the child/ren, their wishes can also be taken into consideration.
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