In deciding what is in the best interest of a child, the Family Law Act requires two tiers of considerations – primary considerations and additional considerations:

Tier 1: The primary considerations are that there is:

  1. A benefit to children of having a meaningful relationship with both parents;
  2. A need to protect children from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

The Court is required to give greater weight to the consideration of the need to protect children from harm.

Tier 2: The court must consider:

  1. The child’s views and factors that might affect those views, such as the child’s maturity and level of understanding.
  2. The children’s relationship with each parent and other people, including grandparents and other relatives.
  3. The extent to which parents have participated in making decisions about time spent with the children.
  4. The extent to which parents have fulfilled their parent’s obligations to maintain the child.
  5. The likely effect on the child of changed circumstances, including separation from a parent or person with whom the child has been living, including a grandparent or other relatives.
  6. The practical difficulty and expense of a child spending time and communicating with a parent.
  7. Each parent’s ability (and that of any other person) to provide for the child’s needs.
  8. The maturity, sex, lifestyle and background of the child and of either of the child’s parents and any other characteristics of the child that the Court thinks are relevant.
  9. The right of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to enjoy his or her culture and the impact a proposed parenting order may have on that right.
  10. The attitude of each parent to the child and to the responsibilities of parenthood.
  11. Any family violence involving the child or a member of the child’s family.
  12. Any family violence order that applies to the child or a member of the child’s family, if:
    1. the order is a final order, or
    2. the making of the order was contested by a person.
  13. Whether it would be preferable to make the order that would be least likely to lead to further court applications and hearings in relation to the child.
  14. Any other fact or circumstance that the Court thinks is relevant.

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