The Court is required to consider that view by reason of section 60CC(3)(a) of the Family Law Act. The weight given to the child’s view depends on the age and maturity of the child. There is no precise age at which the Court will give greater weight to their view.
A child’s view is not voiced by the child attending Court. The Court is informed of a child’s views through an Independent Children’s Lawyer and/or through a Family Report prepared by a family consultant.
An Independent Children’s Lawyer is a representative for the child’s best interests and it is their job to keep the focus on the children when coming to decisions about care arrangements. An Independent Children’s Lawyer is often appointed by the Court and they are responsible for bringing appropriate evidence before the Court, facilitating the child’s participation in the proceedings if appropriate, and acting as an agent between the child and the parents. To aid the Independent Children’s Lawyer in their representation of the child they can:
- Meet with the child
- Speak to the child’s counsellor and/or teacher
- Examine the child’s school records and/or medical records
- Question witnesses at a hearing
- Arrange a family report
A Family Report is prepared by a family consultant who is directed by the Court to report on matters which they feel are relevant in the proceedings. The family consultant in their preparation of the report must ascertain the views of the child on those matters and include those views in their report. The family consultant is not limited in their report to the matters that the Court has directed them to report on but may also include other matters which they feel are relevant to the proceedings. The report is an independent assessment of any issues within the family and assists the judge in making a decision.
Please note the answers provided are for your general information only and we ask you to call our office on 02 6331 2911 to obtain detailed legal advice for your individual situation.
Lauren Ryan | Family Law Solicitor