Determining the best interest of the child

The case of Bondelmonte & Belmonte [2016] FamCAFC 48 demonstrates a number of principles.  The outcome of the case is not the issue in this discussion, but rather the principles enunciated by the trial judge and the judges in the Full Court on appeal.

The trial judge rejected an application to adjourn the proceedings to enable a report to be prepared that included interviewing the children overseas that would determine their views.

Why?

The wishes of the children were heavily influenced by the father with whom they were living.

The Full Court accepted that it is matter for the judge to determine how, giving effect to a child’s wishes, accords with the child’s best interests.

The dissenting judgement is interesting as a principle to be remembered at all times, namely, that, in determining what is in the best interests of the child, a judge is required to look past the abhorrent, disrespectful, challenging and distasteful behaviour of the parents to consider what order is actually necessary to cater to the child’s best interest.

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