If you are a parent of children and you have had to consult with your family lawyer with regards to a divorce, one of the concepts that they may have mentioned to you in your meetings is ‘the best interests of the child’. The best interests of the child is a principle which underpins almost every decision, ruling, and order that comes from the Family Court relating to children, especially when their parents are divorcing.
The main legislation that brought the best interests of the child to the legal table as it were, is the Family Law Act of 1975. This act changed many of the fundamental principles relating to families, divorce, and the welfare of children. For example, whereas it was previously assumed the mother would have sole custody of any children, that was changed so that both parents now have joint parental responsibility.
The Family Law Act also made it clear that when any decisions were being made that impacted the child of any marriage, for example with regards to visitation, that the main consideration should not be what is best for each parent, but what was best for the child. This meant a scenario where one parent was refusing to let the other visit the children or one was refusing to visit their children, were deemed not acceptable.