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Legal Principles


The best interests of the children are the paramount or most important consideration when a parenting order or parenting plan is being made. The approach to be taken in all parenting matters was identified in a Full Court case in 2006. Whilst this decision is some many years old, it remains ‘good law’.

At Parry Coates Family Law, we canvass and identify with you at the beginning of your parenting matter, the following:-

  • Each parents proposal
  • The issues in dispute; and
  • The agreed facts, if any.

We encourage you to eliminate as many issues in dispute as possible. By narrowing the dispute we can move your matter forward, focus your attention on your children’s needs, stage of development and the importance of relationships with parents, siblings and other important people in their lives.

For family lawyers the legal principles are common knowledge. At Parry Coates Family Law we understand that these legal principles are foreign and unfamiliar. We pride ourselves is educating our clients, using plain English where we can and minimising the use of legal jargon. However sometimes this is unavoidable. For example, you need to familiarise yourself with section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975. This section outlines the factors that the court must take into account when deciding what is in a child’s best interest.

There are two classes of considerations – primary and additional. The primary considerations are:-

  • The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents; and
  • the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

After looking at the primary considerations above, the next step is to consider the fourteen (14) ‘additional’ factors in section 60CC(3). When you meet with us, we will explain the additional factors in detail and assess which are relevant to your matter and those which are not. For example, “any views expressed by a child, subject to other factors such as their maturity or level of understanding” is not likely to be relevant for a child who is still very young.


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