Being Child Focused
We hear the term child-focused thrown around, “You need to be child focused” or “best interests of the children” but what does it actually mean?
Child focused is simply that, focusing on the interests and needs of the child rather than our own. It could be that we don’t like the other parent, but should the child have a relationship with them? Things that may need to be considered in being child focused could include:-
a) History of family violence;
b) Age of the child
c) Depending on the age of the child, their views;
d) Relationship with not only the parents but extended family;
e) the extent to which each of the child's parents has taken, or failed to take, the opportunity:
f) Parental capacity;
g) Health issues;
h) Status Quo; and
It is important to consider that just because the parenting looks different in their respective households, does not mean it is harmful to the children, and also whilst the actions may not be great is it acceptable, for example takeout twice a week is probably not the healthiest meal but it is not harming the child.
Do you need to be notified every time the child falls and skins a knee, or is it acceptable just to be notified when it is more serious or requires medical intervention?
A Court is more or less an independent third party who looks at documents before them and makes a choice where the children will live, so of course they have almost come up with a formula as to what child focused mean. As a Mediator, we work with the parties to try to have them consider what is in the best interests of the child and to focus the mediation on that.
The Court’s view is that it is in a child’s best interest to have a meaningful relationship with both parents providing it does not cause harm to the child.
If your issues do not settle at mediation, what is the next step? Usually the answer is Court. Sometimes it is better to accept some of the things that don’t really harm the child, like eating takeaway twice a week, and focus on all the good things that the child may get out of having the relationship with the other parent.
Who is better to make the decisions regarding your children, you as the parents or a Judge who doesn’t know them?