This phrase is often used to describe why people have chosen to undertake a certain course. The Court will often come under fire for making a decision to place a child in an environment that populist opinion considers inappropriate. What is fundamental to the decision under Australian law is what is called the “paramountcy principle”.
This means that, when determining where a child should live and when the child should spend time with the other parent or extended family, the court must give the greatest consideration to this paramountcy principle. The principle can be summarised in a simple phrase – “what is in the best interests of the child.”
The very phrase itself invites people to have an opinion. When the role of a parent is added together with the emotion of love and the feelings of safeguarding the child, nurturing the child and raising the child it becomes easy to confuse the actions of a person, between selflessness and selfishness.
Ask the question – “what is driving my actions?” Ask the same question when you are able to search your heart. We each parent in different ways. When a loving relationship which produced the child has broken down what is often left is disillusionment, anger, betrayal and the need to protect and nurture.
“I am going to protect the child from the other person because what happened to me is not going to happen to my child.”
What people need to remember is that the relationship the child has with the other parent or other persons involved in the child’s life in a significant way (significant other) is not the same as the relationship between two adults.
The child doesn’t see the effect the deterioration of the relationship between adults in the same light as two people previously in love do. A child will often have the opinion, “when I’m with Dad, it’s about Dad and me” and “when I’m with Mum, it’s about Mum and me.” This is why under Australian law the child has the rights. NOT the parents. It is a child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with each of their parents as long as there is no risk of potential physical or emotional harm to the child.
Remember, what is in the child’s best interest is different to what is in your best interests.