Omnia Legal Team Photo

Through all of life’s stages, make important family and personal decisions with confidence.


Posted on 12 April 2024

Omnia Legal


It is a common misconception that when children reach the age of 12, they gain the authority to decide which parent they want to live with or how much time they want to spend with each parent. However, it is important to note that there is in fact no such age at which a child’s wishes become the deciding factor in any outcome for family court proceedings.  

What is the view of the court? 

While age does play a role, more importantly, a child’s maturity, insight and overall understanding of the situation has a baring on how the child’s views will be considered. While older children may have their views given more weight, the court will always consider a number of factors in determining what is in a child’s best interests. 

There are cases in which an older child is at an age where their resistance to spending overnight time with a parent is given a greater consideration, but a younger sibling who is also resistant has not yet reached an age where their view is determinative. The older child is able to stay with the preferred parent, but the younger child is not. While the Court is reluctant to separate siblings, they will rarely force a mature child to spend time with a parent they refuse to see. Parents and caregivers should refrain from conveying the idea that a child’s decisions become final at a specific age for family law parenting matters, as it is not only incorrect in a legal context, but it can also add overwhelming emotional stress on a child who feels they are faced with making this kind of decision. 


Where children express reluctance or concerns about spending time with one parent, it is important to explore the root causes – are these concerns developmentally appropriate, such as homesickness, or do they stem from environmental or social factors, especially where there is high parental conflict? Understanding a child’s capacity to comprehend parental separation and conflict is crucial to discerning whether the concerns are genuine or influenced by one parent. Is a child echoing concerns from a primary caregiver who is anxious about a new arrangement that sees the child spending time away from them? 

If litigation has commenced, the court might appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) to provide an unbiased perspective on a child’s best interests.  

What is a Family Report and How Does It Help? 

A Family Report prepared by a Court Child Expert offers valuable insights into a child’s maturity and understanding. These reports, often prepared by counsellors or psychologists, carry significant weight in court proceedings. In preparing a report, the court-appointed expert considers a child’s experiences and development, the family circumstances and other issues relevant to the case. To do so, they interview the parents as well as the child, and subsequently makes recommendations for arrangements that will best meet the children’s future care, welfare and developmental needs.  

A Family Report can also be sought privately if the matter is not yet in the litigation stage. This may be of assistance where there remain issues in dispute, but both parties have a common goal of seeking a resolution outside of court. 

If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement about your parenting arrangements, we encourage you to contact our family law team for advice tailored to your individual circumstances. 


If you would like to schedule an obligation-free complimentary phone consultation to talk through your option, call (07) 5415 0248 or email 

< Return

Find out for yourself. Schedule a complimentary consultation now.


* Denotes required field