The Family Law Act necessitates the court to view the best interests of the child above anything else. Parents must think of this also when making decisions about their child. The Family Law Act states that until a child turns 18 both parents are equally accountable for the welfare and care of the child.
There are two levels of considerations that the court must consider under the law; primary considerations, and additional considerations. The primary considerations are the value of a significant relationship with the parents and a requirement to protect the child from psychological or physical harm. Additional considerations are the views of the child, the maturity level of the child and the his understanding. It also takes into consideration the child has with the grandparents, the parents, and any other family relationships.
It also looks at the inclination and capability of the parents to help keep a warm and enduring bond between both parents and the child. It asks what the effect may have on the child if they are separated from one parent or grandparents and other family members, the realistic expense and difficulty of a child visiting the other parent, and the ability of a parent to be responsible for the needs of the child. It must consider the sex, maturity, background, and lifestyle of the child and any other facts surrounding the case.
The court must also consider the parent’s attitude to the child and the obligations of parenthood. It must determine if there has been any violence in the family towards any member of the family or toward the child, any court order barring visits with the child or family, the order has been finalized or if there was a dispute. It must reason if the order would lead to other court hearings relative to the child. The court must also look at how each parent has met his or her responsibilities prior to the order.
Have the parent/s contributed to decisions that have lasting concerns or are major for the child? Does the parent spend time and talk to the child, and have the parent/s maintained the child’s monetary and physical needs.
As you can see, determining the best interests of the child can be time consuming and is not a decision that is easily reached. There are many factors a court must weigh to determine where the best interests of the child lie. The best thing in these cases is for the parents to step back emotionally and make a rational decision about the welfare of their child. Unfortunately when it comes to children this is not an easy task.