When can a child make their own decision about custody or with whom they want to live?
Learn when children can decide on custody and how courts determine living arrangements based on the child's best interests. Contact us for expert legal advice on custody matters.

How are the living or spend time arrangements for the child(ren) decided upon?

At present the Court determines the live with and spend time arrangements for children based upon their best interests.

What does ‘best interests’ of the child(ren) mean?

A child's best interests under the current legislation are to spend meaningful and significant time with both of their parents unless there is an unacceptable risk of harm.

Is there an age the child(ren) can make their own decision about who they live with?

We often hear my child is 12 or 13 years old they can decide or the child can decide when they get to a specific age which is not correct. There is no set age when a child can decide whether or not they see, spend time with or communicate with their parents because it depends whether emotionally they are ready to make such a decision and whether it is appropriate for them to be making that decision.

Does the child’s views get any consideration by the Court?

That is not to say that a child's views will not be taken into account by the Court when determining what Orders should be made in the child's best interest. In most parenting cases the children will speak to a Child Court Expert before they issue their Child Impact Report or Family Report and that is an opportunity for the children to talk about what has been happening and any concerns they have. Likewise if an Independent Children's Lawyer is appointed then they will often speak to the children to obtain their perspective.

Does the Child Impact Report or Family Report get taken into consideration by the Court when deciding upon living and/or spend time arrangements?

The Child Impact Report or Family Report may not recommend that the children spend no time with the other parent but their views will be considered in the Report and will be available for the Court to consider as well. It is also possible to issue Subpoenas to the children's schools, Doctors and sometimes therapists which provides the Court with another opportunity to consider any reports made by the children to people outside of the family.Please note the Family Law Act is changing in May 2024 and so the matters the Court has to determine for parenting arrangements are changing.

If you have any further questions about spending time or living arrangements for your child(ren) and what the Court will consider, contact us on 07 2113 4645 to book your initial consultation with one of our Solicitors.
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