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Children's Law Reform Act

Section 24 - Merits of Application for Child Custody or Access
(1) The merits of an application under this Part in respect of custody of or access to a child shall be determined on the basis of the best interests of the child.

[This is what the court always looks at - the best interests of the children. Whenever a court looks at anything to do with children, this is the test. Even if a new issue came before the court - say whether we should send children to the moon - the question would be whether sending the children to the moon would be in the children's best interests (yes! it's fun!).]

(2) In determining the best interests of a child for the purposes of an application under this Part in respect of custody of or access to a child, a court shall consider all the needs and circumstances of the child including,

(a) the love, affection and emotional ties between the child and,
(i) each person entitled to or claiming custody of or access to the child,
(ii) other members of the child's family who reside with the child, and
(iii) persons involved in the care and upbringing of the child;

(b) the views and preferences of the child, where such views and preferences can reasonably be ascertained;

(c) the length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment;

(d) the ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessaries of life and any special needs of the child;

(e) any plans proposed for the care and upbringing of the child;

(f) the permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live; and

(g) the relationship by blood or through an adoption order between the child and each person who is a party to the application.

[These are some (but by no means all) of the factors that a court will look at in determining what is in the children's best interests.]

(3) The past conduct of a person is not relevant to a determination of an application under this Part in respect of custody of or access to a child unless the conduct is relevant to the ability of the person to act as a parent of a child.

[So, for instance, adultery is normally irrelevant to a determination of child custody.]
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