In family law in Australia, an “unacceptable risk” refers to a situation in which there is a concern that a child is at risk of harm or abuse if they were to spend time or live with a parent or other person. This concept is particularly relevant in parenting disputes, as the court’s paramount consideration is always the best interests of the child.

Section 60CC(2) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) sets out a number of factors that the court must consider in determining the best interests of the child, including any risk of harm to the child.

Section 60CC(3) of the Act provides that the court must also consider the factors set out in section 60CC(4) when determining whether there is an unacceptable risk of harm. These factors include:

  • The nature of the risk of harm
  • The degree of the risk of harm
  • The extent to which the child would be exposed to the risk of harm.
  • The capacity of the parent or other person to protect the child from harm.

If the court determines that there is an unacceptable risk of harm to the child, it may make orders to protect the child, such as ordering that the child not spend time with a particular person or ordering that the child spend time with that person only under certain conditions (such as supervised contact). In some cases, the court may even order that a parent or other person not have any contact with the child.

The concept of unacceptable risk is an important consideration in parenting disputes, as it highlights the need to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of the child. The court will carefully consider all relevant evidence to ensure that the child is protected from harm and that their best interests are upheld.

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