An Aunt is not a “Parent” for the purposes of the Family Law Act

Case of Burton & Churchin & Anor [2013] FamCAFC 180 (15 November 2013)

Section 60CC(2) of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that in considering what are in a child’s best interests, the court must consider the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both “parents”.

In this case, the Full Court of the Family Court allowed an appeal by the child’s stepmother against a decision at first instance where an order was made for the child to live with the aunt in France. The child was to go to France because the child’s father had died, and the child’s mother did not participate in the proceedings.

The Full Court accepted the stepmother’s argument that the child should remain in Australia, and continue living with the stepmother, as the aunt was not a “parent”. According to the Full Court:

“There can be no question . . . that the words of s60CC(2), or more accurately s60CC(2)(a), refer only to the benefit to the child of having a relationship with both the child’s parents”.

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