Child custody can be a complex issue, especially when a child is under two years old. In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 governs child custody matters.
When determining what is in the best interests of a child younger than two years old, the court considers several factors.
This article examines the laws considered in child custody cases involving child custody under 2 years old.
When determining child custody, the court always takes the child’s best interests into account. This means that the child’s safety, well-being, and development are the primary focus. The court looks at a range of factors to determine what is in the child’s best interests, including:
- The child’s relationships with the parents, grandparents, and other significant individuals
- The child’s age, development, and level of maturity.
- The capacity of each parent to provide for the emotional and physical requirements of the child
- The need for consistency and stability in the child’s care arrangements
- A history or current of family violence, abuse, or neglect
- Any additional relevant factors, including the child’s cultural background and special requirements
The Importance of the Relationship
The child custody law law in Australia acknowledges the significance of a child’s relationship with both parents.
This means that the court will consider how much time the child spends with each parent and what the nature of the relationship is like.
When a child is under the age of two, the court will consider the principal attachment figure or figures, who are typically the primary carer or carers.
This implies that the court will consider the child’s strongest attachment and primary carer.
Research indicates that frequent and consistent contact with both parents is generally considered beneficial for the development and well-being of infants and toddlers.
This is because infants and toddlers are still forming attachments to their primary caregivers, and maintaining these attachments is advantageous.
In their care arrangements, parents must also consider the child’s need for stability and continuity.
This implies that the infant must have consistent routines for them to feel secure and safe.
An example of a parenting arrangement for a child under 2 years old would be like this:
- The child lives with one parent and sleeps in one place;
- The child spends 3 hours a day, once every 2 or 3 days, with the other parent that the child does not live with.
In many instances, parents are encouraged to construct a parenting plan outlining the custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the child.
This plan can be formulated with the assistance of a mediator or child custody lawyer to ensure that it is fair and practical for both parents.
The Role of Parenting Plans
Parents who are separating can create a parenting plan to assist in determining child custody arrangements.
A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents outlining how they will divide parental responsibilities and make decisions regarding their child.
The Role of Mediation
Mediation is a common method of resolving child custody disputes in Australia. An impartial third party assists the parents in reaching an agreement during mediation.
When parents can not agree on arrangements for child custody under 2 years old, mediation can be especially beneficial, as the mediator can help them consider what is in the child’s best interests.
The Role of the Court
Alternatively, if parents cannot compromise on child custody, the family court can decide.
The court will consider the aforementioned factors and may appoint an independent attorney for children to represent the child’s best interests.
The optimal child custody arrangement for a child under the age of two will ultimately depend on the family’s specific circumstances and must prioritise the child’s protection, well-being, and development.
Disputes over child custody can be complicated, particularly when the child is younger than two years old.
The Family Law Act of 1975 governs child custody disputes in Australia and takes the child’s best interests into consideration.
For child custody under 2 years old, the court looks into the child’s primary attachment figure or figures and the need for stability and continuity in their care arrangements.
Parents can develop a parenting plan and engage in mediation to assist in resolving child custody disputes.
If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine what is in the child’s best interests.
Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.