Considerations by the Court during a Child Custody Matter

Considerations by the Court during a Child Custody Matter

If you want custody of your children following a divorce or de facto separation, it’s important to be able to show the Court that you are ready for the responsibility. So what exactly is considered by the Court during a child custody matter?  

  1. The best interests of the child
    Well, of course, right? That makes sense – everything we do as parents should be in the best interests of our children, so it should come as no surprise that the Court wishes to uphold the same standard.

    Both parents have a special and important place in a child’s life, so if you are looking to be granted full custody, you must be able to provide clear reasoning to the Court as to why shared custody is not in the child’s best interest, such as a history of substance abuse or lack of suitable living residence.

  2. How you come across in Court
    Although we would typically recommend trying mediation first, sometimes a child custody matter may need to be escalated to a Courtroom setting. Should this happen, it is highly likely a Judge may determine a parent’s fitness for sole custody by their mannerisms and behaviour in Court. Avoiding interruptions, maintaining composure and avoiding angry outbursts is viewed favourably by the Court as it shows a balanced character from the parent. We also recommend wearing formal clothing, such as a dark suit, and avoiding casual clothing, such as jeans and tees.

  3. The level at which you have prepared for Court
    Preparing documentation and evidence to support your position surrounding sole custody will be looked upon favourably by the Court as it shows you are serious about taking on this role. Some of the documentation and evidence you may wish to provide includes:
    1. A detailed log of the child custody process so far, including any interactions with the other party, lawyers, attempts at mediation, etc.
    1. Evidence of trying to expand their parenting skills and encourage positive interactions between the child and other important members in the child’s life
    1. A list of occasions where the other party presented as an unfit parent
    1. A list of people who could be called upon to provide witness statements in regards to your parenting skills or the other party’s lack thereof

  4. Your home environment and lifestyle
    The Court wants to see that you can provide your child with a healthy, clean and safe residence, lifestyle and routine to appropriately support them in their growth and development. The Court also looks favourably upon parent’s who actively maintain a level of physical and mental wellbeing for themselves, as it positions them as a positive role model.

    The Court will also look at your ability to be an active part in your child’s life, as well as your ability to foster a positive relationship for the child with the other parent and be respectful towards them. It’s important that you are honest with yourself when considering your role as full custodian and your ability to fulfil the duties involved.

  5. Enlisting the help of a Therapist
    As mentioned at the beginning, the wellbeing of the child in consideration is the most important aspect for the Court. Enlisting the help of a Therapist shows that you are actively trying to support your child through the divorce.

    It is important to note that the Court may ask for a Therapist Assessment of the child’s wellbeing. Although Therapist’s won’t typically provide custody recommendations, they can provide a letter stating what the child will need in order to live a balanced life.

  6. The child’s wishes
    You know that famous movie line – ‘Oh won’t someone think of the children?!’ Well, you can rest assured that the Court most certainly does, particular in custody cases involving older children. While the Court may not grant the child’s wishes due to other reasons as mentioned above, it will take into consideration their reasons to live with one parent over the other.

Child custody cases are highly emotional and stressful for both the parents and the children, which is why we recommend enlisting the help of a specialised lawyer to guide you through the process. At Waters Lawyers we are experts at deescalating conflict and helping parents reach agreements in the best interests of their children. For a free initial consultation, please contact our friendly team on (03) 5996 1600 or schedule a time via our bookings page.

By Simon Varszeghy

Child looking at parents during a shared custody matter
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