A challenging hurdle that some parents face in relation to their custody arrangement is a child’s rejection of the agreement. Because custody agreements are often arranged during a child’s younger years, it is not uncommon for a child to change their views on the agreement as they get older. When a child firmly refuses to adhere to an agreement, it may be time to seek legal advice.
A child’s changing desires may be influenced by many factors, including tension between a child and their parent’s new partner, a changing relationship between a child and their parent as they enter adolescence or the desire to stay in one house rather than travel between houses.
So, what happens when a child grows up and decides they don’t like the current arrangement?
The court will consider a number of factors when deciding whether the arrangement should be altered to adhere to the child’s desires. These include:
The need to protect the child from harm
When deciding on a custody arrangement, the court will consider the child’s best interests first and foremost. The child’s best interests can be determined by looking at two primary factors and several secondary factors. The first primary factor is the need to protect the child from any harm or neglectful behaviour. If a child is experiencing harm or neglectful treatment from a parent or a partner of a parent, the court will consider the child’s safety before any other factors.
The child’s relationship with each parent
The second primary factor that the court will consider is the benefit for the child to have a meaningful relationship with each parent. This may include living situations with each parent or ensuring the child spends time with each parent as long as they are safe.
The child’s age, maturity and sex
The child’s views on the arrangement are a secondary factor that the court will consider. When considering the child’s views, the court will firstly assess the child’s age, maturity, sex and background. A child’s age and maturity, in particular, will play a large role in the court’s decision to grant the child their desired outcome. An adolescent, for example, may have a better ability to make rational decisions compared with a child under the age of 12, and will therefore be viewed more favourably in the eyes of the court.
Making changes to a custody arrangement can be stressful for parents, especially if a child has expressed desires to stop living with one parent. Although frustration and angst can arise between parents during this time, settling arrangements outside of court is the best way to keep stress to a minimum, and will save a significant amount of time and money, making the process as seamless as possible. If you have a child that disagrees with your existing custody arrangement, it’s important to seek advice from a lawyer as soon as possible in order to decide on the best option for your arrangement.
If you require legal assistance in relation to your custody arrangement, contact Owen Hodge Lawyers on 1800 770 780.