Last updated 3 August 2016
The objects and principles of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (Family Law Act) focus on the importance of both parents playing an active role in the lives of their children after separation and encourage an emphasis on post-separation parenting. The best interests of the child remain the paramount consideration (s 60CA Family Law Act).
The objects (s 60B Family Law Act) are to ensure that the best interests of children are met by:
- ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives, to the maximum extent consistent with the best interests of the child
- protecting the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence
- ensuring that children receive adequate and proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential
- ensuring that parents fulfill their duties and meet their responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children.
The principles underlying these objects are focused on children spending regular time with both parents and other significant people. Section 60B(2) of the Family Law Act contains relevant principles, except when it is or would be contrary to a child’s best interests:
- Children have a right to know and be cared for by both their parents regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived together.
- Children have a right to spend time and communicate on a regular basis with both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (e.g. grandparents and other relatives).
- Parents jointly share duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children.
- Parents should agree about the future parenting of their children.
- Children have a right to enjoy their culture (including the right to enjoy that culture with other people who share that culture).
Under s 60B(3) of the Family Law Act, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child’s right to enjoy their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture includes the right to maintain a connection with that culture, to have the support, opportunity and encouragement necessary to explore the full extent of that culture consistent with the child’s age and developmental level, and the right to express the child’s views and to develop a positive appreciation of that culture.
An additional object is to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (s 60B(4) Family Law Act).