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Mature Minors and Parenting Disputes in Australia: Engaging with the Debate on Best Interests v Autonomy


Lisa Young

Australia lags behind other jurisdictions in considering the relevance of a mature minor’s decision-making capacity to parenting disputes. Gillick competency, as it is known, is routinely discussed in the case of medical decision-making, however is ignored when it comes to parenting decisions concerning very mature minors. This article explores this failure and in particular considers a) the jurisdiction of the court to determine a matter when a child is competent; b) the extent to which the courts are entitled to ignore a child’s competency, based on their best interests; c) to the extent a court should, but does not, consider a child’s competency, why they do not; and d) the arguments for overriding, or not, competency where there is a discretion. The article concludes that the court needs to reconsider this area of law, highlighting that this would play a part in the larger project of giving due recognition to children’s rights in parenting proceedings.

Please access full article here or via PDF link to the left.

(2019) 42(4) UNSWLJ 1362: