Australian family law is an essential field, guided by the Family Law Act of 1975, which establishes legal guidelines for handling family disputes while prioritizing children’s well-being. Within this comprehensive legal framework, Section 60CC is pivotal in making decisions concerning child custody and parenting matters. With this guide, we aim to explore its purpose, principles, practical application, and wider ramifications within family law.

As we explore the intricate world of Australian family law, we must grasp the essence and significance of Section 60CC of the Family Law Act. This section is the compass when parents are at odds over child custody arrangements for their offspring. To fully grasp all the complexities surrounding child custody arrangements and parenting arrangements in Australia, we’ll explore this core element further by delving into its principles, factors taken into consideration, and the impact it has had on families across Australia.

Purpose of Section 60CC

Section 60CC is the cornerstone of the Family Law Act regarding parenting arrangements. Its main objective is to promote the best interests of a child when parents cannot agree on arrangements. It outlines key considerations the court should consider when making orders that ensure child welfare is the highest priority.

What is in the Best Interests of the Child?

Section 60CC sets its primary emphasis on determining what is in the best interests of children, an established principle in Australian family law that governs all decisions regarding parenting arrangements and child custody matters. To do this effectively, courts consider two primary factors that establish what best serves a child: primary considerations and additional considerations.

 Primary Considerations

  1. The Benefit to the Child from Maintaining Relationships with Both Parents: The first primary consideration underlines the significance of maintaining meaningful relationships between a child and both of their parents, although it should not be viewed as an absolute requirement. In exceptional cases, the court may prioritize safety over relationship preservation.
  2. Protecting a Child from Physical or Psychological Harm, Abuse, Neglect, or Family Violence: Children are of paramount importance; should there be concerns of abuse or violence from either of their parents, then contact may be restricted or denied to safeguard their safety and well-being. If necessary, court action could restrict or deny contact to keep children safe.

Additional Considerations

Section 60CC also specifies additional factors that should be taken into account by courts when making decisions about parenting arrangements, such as:

  1. A child’s maturity, sex, lifestyle and background: When determining what is in their best interests, all these factors must be considered.
  2. Each parent’s attitude toward their responsibilities as parents: The court evaluates each parent’s approach to parenthood and its duties.

Weighing the Facts

 Under Section 60CC, courts must weigh and balance various considerations to reach a decision that serves the best interests of a child. Every case differs, and so the court must assess all relevant elements to reach an informed decision. Therefore, knowing about section 60cc Family Law Act can help.

Shared Parenting Time Arrangements

Parental time arrangements under Section 65DAA of the Family Law Act provide for shared care and equal time arrangements – which is often associated with presuming equal shared parental responsibility; these concepts should be seen as distinct.

Shared care refers to an arrangement in which a child spends substantial time with each parent, while equal-time arrangements require them to spend equal time with both. Unfortunately, neither form of care can suit every situation; when deciding about your children’s best interests, you must always put them first.

Understanding Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Before taking their differences over parenting arrangements to court, couples are typically required first to try Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). FDR encouraged both parties to work together towards reaching an agreement on these matters without court intervention, thus potentially eliminating or at least postponing potential court cases.

FDR can provide parents with an effective means of exploring various parenting plan options and creating one tailored specifically to their unique circumstances. Although FDR is generally mandatory in most instances, exceptions exist in cases involving family violence or child abuse.

Court’s Decision-Making Process

When family law cases reach court, a judge typically follows a prescribed process in making decisions regarding parenting arrangements. This may include:

  1. Collecting Evidence: Both parties present their arguments and submit evidence in support of their case, such as witness testimonies, expert reports and relevant documents.
  2. Determination of Child’s Best Interests: When evaluating what is in the best interests of a child, the judge takes into account all primary and additional considerations outlined by Section 60CC to come to a determination as to their wellbeing.
  3. Formulating Orders: Based on evidence and an evaluation of the best interests of each child, courts will create parenting orders that set out the living arrangements, visitation schedule and any other pertinent details regarding child-rearing arrangements.

Ongoing Reviews and Amendments

Child custody arrangements do not need to remain static over time; they can be revised as circumstances shift and change. If one parent believes the current arrangements no longer align with what’s best for their child due to significant life changes, they can ask the court to review parenting orders.


Section 60CC of the Family Law Act is an essential aspect of Australian family law, serving as a key guideline in decisions on parenting arrangements and child custody arrangements. It places children’s best interests at the forefront, considering various factors, including safety, relationships and individual needs. While presuming equal shared parental responsibility for child-rearing purposes is likely, courts will always prioritize child wellbeing over other considerations. Family dispute resolution should always be explored as an avenue towards solving parenting disputes; legal intervention should be used only as an extreme last resort option if necessary.

Understanding the intricate details of Section 60CC is vital for parents navigating child custody disputes, legal professionals and anyone involved in family law cases. It ensures that child welfare remains paramount when making decisions and allows tailored solutions tailored to each family’s unique circumstances.