Involved in a child custody matter or considering starting an application? You may be wondering what a court will take into consideration when deciding who the child will live with.
The primary concern of the court, is the well-being of the child. The court looks to maintain the child’s relationship with both parents where possible, but it’s main focus is on the safety of the child physically and mentally. In determining this in a child custody matter, the court will look to assess and consider, what the child’s view is. How does the court know what a child’s view is in a child custody or parenting matter? Read on to find out.
The Court may inform itself of views expressed by a child by:
- considering the contents of a report by a family consultant. A family consultant who is directed to give the Court a report on a matter relevant to proceedings is required to ascertain the views of the child regarding that matter and include the views of the child on that matter in the family report (unless this would be inappropriate because of the child’s age or maturity or some other special circumstance);
- making an order for an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) to be appointed for a child. One of the duties of an independent children’s lawyer is to ensure that any views expressed by the child in relation to matters before the Court, such as arrangements for where the child lives, are fully put before the Court; or
- by such other means as the Court considers appropriate. This may include consideration by the Court of a family report obtained upon the joint instructions of both parties to the Court action.
However, neither the Court nor any other person (whether a family consultant, ICL or otherwise) may require a child to express his or her view regards where he or she wishes to live or regards any other matter. It may be important for a child to understand this, particularly if the child is feeling very conflicted at the prospect of expressing an opinion favouring any parent.