The question of ‘What age can a child refuse to see a parent in Australia, unfortunately, comes up quite often after parents get divorced or separated. This situation can be hard to accept, as they are just children and sometimes do not understand the gravity of what they are doing.
This article aims to clarify what age a child can refuse to see a parent in Australia and give some guidance on the related question of what age they can choose which parent to live with.
The Situations When a Child May Refuse To See a Parent In Australia
The unfortunate reality of parenting is sometimes you are just doing the best you can and will fall short of your child’s expectations. In other times, you are doing what you know and believe is the best thing for your child, whether in terms of health, future, or safety and they will not understand and appreciate why you made certain decisions. Such situations can escalate to the point where the child may even refuse to see you.
In other situations, through no fault of your own, a child can refuse to see a parent in Australia because the child’s other parent has failed in their obligation to not speak badly of you in the presence of the child. Sometimes, your child’s other parent will intentionally go out of their way to poison the susceptible mind of your child and turn them against you. If you believe this is happening, you should seek legal advice immediately to understand the options available to you.
These situations are a harsh reality to accept, especially in scenarios where you and the other parent are divorced or separated, and your time with the child is already limited.
At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent They Want To Live With?
The question above is also highly relevant to the question of ‘what age can a child refuse to see a parent in Australia?’ in the more formal court-room setting.
The court applies a two-fold test when considering the wishes of the child:
1. The child’s age: In Australia, a child is legally a minor until they turn 18. Accordingly, children up to the age of even 17-year-olds can have their opinions and wishes ignored. Consequently, there is no set age. However, the views of an older child will be generally attributed more weight.
2. The child’s level of maturity: This second consideration is the more important determining factor. In this regard, the court is assisted by a family consultant such as a qualified social worker or psychologist. This family consultant will meet with your child and assess their capacity to make decisions and level of maturity. The family consultant will subsequently report to the court regarding your child’s understanding of the current parenting situation relative to these factors.
Key Takeaway: It is important to note that merely the child’s age will not make or break a family law matter. There have been situations where the court has attributed little weight to the wishes of 17-year-olds because the basis for their decision was not mature and logical. On the contrary, the wishes of children as young as 12 years of age have had significant weight attributed to their opinions and desires because of the logical and mature manner in which they expressed themselves.
Equal Shared Parental Responsibility
Assuming there is a parenting dispute before an application is made to the court to determine parental responsibility and any parenting arrangements, parents must engage in a mediation session to see if the matter can be resolved there first in the more informal setting. However, it should be noted that a mediation session is not required if there are reasonable grounds to believe that one parent has engaged in any family violence or child abuse. In such a situation, the court will usually permit applications directly to the court and allow forgoing the mediation session.
When making parenting orders, the court applies the presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents in accordance with s61DA of the Family Law Act.
In an equal shared parental responsibility arrangement, parents are required to genuinely try and cooperate and consult with their co-parent regarding significant decisions about the child. For example, if a parent desires to change the child’s school, they are required to consult with the other parent before acting on their own accord.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
It is important to note when discussing the question of ‘what age can a child refuse to see a parent in Australia’ to remember that despite their reasoning for not wanting to see you, they are still a child and your child. Accordingly, you should not hold it against them and do your best to show them that you genuinely want to be a part of their life.
If you have any further questions on the topic of ‘What age can a child refuse to see a parent in Australia’ or any other questions regarding you or your children, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way. With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers about your particular situation.
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