This is where the parent’s conduct becomes extremely relevant to the family law proceedings. Each trait a parent possesses can directly impact on the way the child or children will be treated and the experiences a child will be exposed to while in that parent’s care.
If a parent commits crimes, drinks excessively, uses illicit substances, engages in inappropriate sexual behaviour and/or experiences mental instability (for example, issues with anger management or suicidal tendencies), they will come under scrutiny throughout proceedings. Where such traits are possessed by a parent, the risk that a child or children will be exposed to harm while in the parent’s care dramatically increases.
The court deems it to be in the best interest of each child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents. Protecting a child from the risk of harm can, in particular cases, outweigh the benefit to the child of having a relationship with that parent.