Child custody decisions in Australia are complex matters which are often decided by the courts. Achieving a positive outcome for both parties can be difficult, which means that you should always engage the services of an experienced family lawyer to make sure that you’re doing things right.
In saying that, there are some things that are out of your control when child custody cases are being heard. For example, if a child really doesn’t want to live with one of their parents, the court will take this into account – sometimes.
It can be hard to know just how much weight the judge will give to a child’s opinions when resolving a child custody dispute, and ultimately it will vary from situation to situation.
When will a child’s opinion be considered?
As I noted above, the weight that a judge gives to a child’s opinion will depend on the situation. In some cases, they will listen carefully to what a child or children have to say. For example, when:
- A child is mature enough to form their own opinion without significant outside influence.
- When there’s evidence that one of the parents hasn’t treated the child right.
- If one of the parents has been absent for a significant part of the child’s life, and they want to continue living with the other one.
However, there are also situations wherein a child’s opinion will be largely ignored when determining custody arrangements, including:
- If the child is deemed too young or too immature to make an informed decision.
- If the child is thought to have been heavily influenced by one of the parents against the other.
As you can imagine, such situations are very complicated and judges don’t always get it right. Although they might listen to a child’s opinion on the matter and take it into account, it will almost never never be the sole deciding factor in a child custody dispute.
What else will the judge take into account?
There are a range of other factors that will be taken into account when determining custody arrangements. Speak to your lawyer about your situation, but some of the things you should keep in mind include:
- The family history, including whether either parent has any history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Any history of emotional or physical violence towards either the children in question or any other family members.
- Each parents ability to provide for their children.
As you can see, child custody disputes can be very complicated, which means that it can be very hard to predict the outcome.
Final word: how can I maximise the chance of a positive outcome?
Although you never quite know what the outcome of a child custody battle is going to be, there are a few things that you can do to maximise your chances of a positive result. Speak with your lawyer to make sure that you’re approaching things the right way, make sure that you’re on good terms with your children, and above all, try and eliminate any negative habits or other things which might influence the judges decision.