What Age Can a Child Decide
What age can a Child Decide?
After separation, parents often wonder when children are able to decide for themselves where they live, or how often, and in what circumstances, they see their parents.
The short answer is that the Family Law Act 1975 allows the courts to make Orders until a child is 18. The Court can, and has previously, made Orders against the wishes of children as old as 17.
The longer answer is that it depends.
The Court must always make interests in the best interests of the child. Part of making a decision that is in a child’s best interests is taking that child’s views into account.
There are two main factors that the court considers when the court considers a child’s views on where they want to live, or if they want to see a parent:
- The age of the child; and
- The maturity of the child.
The older and more mature a child is, the more weight the Court will put on their views.
In the recent case of Cardus & Lavrick  FamCA 579; (17 August 2020), the court considered the views of a 14 year old girl who did not want to see her father or have any communication with him at all. Although the child had some disabilities that affected her maturity and understanding, the Court found that the child had “clearly and consistently expressed” her views not to see her father over a number a years, and had become extremely anxious at the thought of seeing him or even receiving an email from him. In that case, the Court decided that “the child’s views ought to be accepted and given priority by the Court.” In line with the child’s wishes (and the evidence of other experts), Orders were made for the child to have no contact with the father.
The Next Step
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