Does Your Teenager always get their way?

Two Australian teenagers are the latest to have their right to enter and reside in the US scrutinized- not by everyone’s favourite Republican (…), but by the Australian High Court.

On appeal from a decision of Justice Watts of the Family Court, a new High Court case on family law (a rare treat for family lawyers in Melbourne) considered the wishes of two teenagers aged 15 and 17 to live with their father in the United States, when their holiday there suddenly became a permanent stay.

The mother, who remained living in Australia, made an application for the boys’ return, on the basis that their relationship with her would be compromised if they remained in the United States.

“Wishes” of children are a relevant factor for a Court to take into account, particularly as they get older and those wishes are more maturely expressed. It can sometimes be tempting to think that children of these ages will simply be able to determine their own living arrangements.

However, the High Court upheld the decision of the trial Judge, who found that though both children expressed strong wishes to remain in the United States with their father, those wishes had to be examined in the context in which they were expressed. In this case, the trial Judge found that those wishes were heavily influenced by circumstances which had been contrived by the father.

The lesson? Children don’t get their wishes simply because they want it- a principle our favourite Republican might struggle to understand.

Source: Bondelmonte v Bondelmonte [2017] HCA 8 (12 March 2017)