How the Child’s View Affects Custody Disputes?
Before imposing an order, the Court will always consider what Parenting Arrangements are in the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, any views expressed by the child will be taken into consideration.
During this process, the Court will place appropriate weight to these views depending upon various factors such as the child’s maturity and understanding of the situation.
As children of mature age are more likely to grasp the concepts of separation, split custody, and parenting arrangements, the Court is likely to place far more weight on the views of children between the age bracket of 14 – 18 years.
Studies indicate children within this age bracket are more likely to comprehend complex situations such as parenting arrangements as opposed to children less than 10 years. Child support becomes a serious issue when families separate and follow the parenting agreement.
Areas of Proposed Reform Parenting Arrangements for the 0-4 year age group
Although the current law encompasses the views of all children under the age of 18 years, the Queensland Family and Child Commission has recently proposed recommendations to the Australian Law Reform Commission that the views of younger children should be considered with more weight.
The recent submission made to the ALRC considers a child’s views are significant, regardless of age or maturity.
The submissions seek to further promote the meaningful engagement younger children have with the parenting arrangements process. These notions have been publicly backed by child protection organizations such as Bravehearts and Uniting Care who believe the voice of the child needs to be heard in all situations.
Despite having practical applications, these submissions may be premature in placing significant weight on infantile children’s views. Family Law Experts have indicated reform of this area