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The Significance of Best Interests of the Child in Australian Law
04 Sep 2023

Unveiling the Significance of the Best Interests of the Child in Australian Family Law

By Family Lawyers Mackay, 04 Sep 2023
Family Law

In Australian family law, the concept of the “best interests of the child” stands as a foundational principle. Whenever a parent or the Court is faced with decisions pertaining to a child, the paramount consideration is always the child’s best interests. But what precisely does this notion encompass in the Australian context?

What Does the Law Dictate?

Section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 delineates the criteria for determining the best interests of the child, relying on two primary considerations:

1. Fostering a Meaningful Relationship

The first consideration revolves around assessing the benefit to the child of maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents. This emphasises the importance of preserving the child’s connection with both maternal and paternal figures.

2. Safeguarding Against Harm

The second primary consideration centres on protecting the child from any physical or psychological harm, be it abuse, neglect, or family violence. The Court places considerable weight on this aspect to ensure the child’s well-being.

Additional Factors to Consider

In addition to the primary considerations, the Act also highlights a range of additional factors that play a role in determining the best interests of the child:

– Nurturing Relationships

The child’s relationships with each parent and other individuals, including grandparents or other relatives, are thoroughly examined.

– Child’s Perspective

Any views expressed by the child are taken into account. This assessment includes considering the child’s maturity level and comprehension capacity.

– Parental Involvement

The willingness of each parent to participate in decisions regarding significant long-term matters and their engagement with the child is considered.

– Changes in Circumstances

Anticipated effects of changes in the child’s circumstances, such as separation from parents or other family members they currently reside with, are evaluated.

– Family Violence

Incidents of family violence involving the child or any family member are examined, along with any existing family violence orders pertaining to the child or family members.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

The Role of Parenting Orders

Parenting orders hold a pivotal role in determining various aspects of a child’s life, including:

– Living Arrangements

Parenting orders typically specify which parent the child will reside with.

– Time Allocation

They also delineate the amount of time the child will spend with each parent.

– Communication Plans

Methods of communication between the child and the non-residential parent are outlined.

– Education

Parenting orders may cover the child’s education.

– General Welfare

The health and overall well-being of the child are carefully considered.

When contemplating the issuance of a parenting order, the Court must weigh the two primary factors as well as any additional elements laid out in Section 60CC of the Act. Notably, a child’s “views” may hold greater weight in such decisions, especially when the child is of an age and maturity level conducive to making informed choices.

Furthermore, the Court will assess the nature of the relationship between each parent and the child, with a nurturing and loving connection often favouring one parent over the other in the final parenting order.

Child Relocation Cases

Child Relocation CasesIn cases of child relocation, the same principle applies to the best interests of the child remains the paramount concern in reaching a final verdict.

For instance, if a parent wishes to relocate to a different city to pursue a better job opportunity, the Court may deem it in the child’s best interest. Nevertheless, such a request may be denied if it appears that one parent is hindering the other’s access to the child.

Seek Guidance from Experts

If you find yourself grappling with family law issues that involve the best interests of your child, consider consulting with specialised family lawyers who comprehend the intricacies of such matters. At Family Lawyers Mackay, we are well-versed in all aspects of children’s affairs and will provide expert guidance to help you navigate your case while safeguarding the best interests of your child. For personalised assistance, please reach out to our team via email or phone. Your child’s well-being is our top priority.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the primary goal of the Best Interests of the Child principle?

A: The primary goal is to ensure that all legal decisions related to the child prioritize their safety, well-being, and happiness.

Q: Do the child’s wishes always determine custody arrangements?

A: No, while the child’s wishes are considered, they are just one factor among many that the court evaluates.

Q: How does the court determine if a parent is capable of providing for the child’s best interests?

A: The court assesses factors such as the parent’s physical and emotional capacity, financial stability, and parenting skills.


By consulting one of our accredited family law mackay specialists.

Q: Can grandparents seek custody based on the Best Interests of the Child’s principal?

A: Yes, grandparents can seek custody or visitation rights, and the court will assess their request in the context of the child’s best interests.

Q: Is the Best Interests of the Child principle the same in all Australian states?

A: While the principle is consistent across Australia, its application may vary slightly in different states and territories.

Q: What happens if parents cannot agree on custody arrangements?

A: In such cases, the court will intervene to make a decision based on the child’s best interests.

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